• Laura Kirkpatrick

Safety Reporting: Crewed and Un-Crewed


It’s an exciting time to be part of the expanding UAS industry. It has been a whirlwind to watch the growth from its earliest days until now.


Over the next few years it will continue that evolution and expand in tandem with regulatory standards and guidelines for its safe operation.


Operators can expect guidelines and regulations for Part 107 operators to be set and revised with data from many sources, including NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS).


In a nutshell, ASRS confidentially collects, analyzes, and reports on voluntarily submitted aviation safety incidents. The reports describe unsafe occurrences, hazardous situations, and lessons-learned in an effort to prevent others from making the same mistakes. With the expansion of the UAS industry NASA has added the ability for separate UAS safety reporting.

You can be a part of submitting data to make the nation’s airspace safer. Additional UAS reports will help build the data and provide real world information as regulations are developed.

UAS operators are encouraged to submit to this voluntary and confidential safety data collection tool.


In exchange for filing an ASRS report, the FAA offers protection against civil penalty and certificate suspension. Keep in mind, reports regarding accidents and criminal acts such as reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, or voyeurism are excluded from the protections offered by the FAA.


A report to ASRS may be filed at any time, but to receive protection from the FAA (penalties or certificate suspension), a report must be submitted within 10 days of the event, or when the operator first became aware of the event. Reports may be submitted online or a paper form is available on the NASA ASRS website. Details and specifics are available from the FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 00-46F and NASA ASRS.


ASRS de-identifies reports before entering them into the publicly-available ASRS database. All personal and organization names are removed, protecting confidentiality of reporters and their companies. Dates, times, aircraft make/model and related information, which could be used to infer an identity, are either generalized or eliminated.


The ASRS reporting process is designed to be constructive and assist in preventing future violations. Submissions to NASA’s ASRS are regarded as one of the world’s largest sources of data on aviation safety and human factors. These reports help improve the safety in the National Airspace System (NAS) and can identify the safest ways to integrate UAS into the NAS.


The confidential nature of the reporting system helps answer questions as to why a system failed or why a human erred. ASRS has been a part of the aviation safety culture for more than 45 years and has logged more than 1.8 million safety reports.


The success of the ASRS reporting model has been applied to other industries including railroad, medical, security, firefighting, maritime, and law enforcement. Across the aviation industry, submissions are routinely and confidentially submitted by pilots, air traffic controllers, cabin crew, dispatchers, maintenance technicians, ground personnel and others involved in professional and recreational operations.


The time is now for UAS operators to embrace the UAS ASRS reporting mechanism and contribute to the body of knowledge for the UAS industry.

For UAS operations, anyone can file a confidential NASA ASRS report: Part 107 crews, Part 135 operators, public operators, recreational flyers, and visual observers.


Users of the Baldwin Safety Management System can submit information directly to the NASA ASRS. This new integration is being incorporated into Baldwin’s Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP); if a Baldwin user decides to report to NASA ASRS, the required information will be sent via ASAP, eliminating the need to complete a separate report.


Through conducting research and analysis of reports, ASRS can share:

  • Lessons learned which can help prevent others from making the same mistake.

  • Best practices for procedures, checklists, and safety briefings to support safe UAS operations.

  • Identify equipment, software, and automation issues that can contribute to UAS incidents

  • Resolve UAS issues to improve safety

The expanding use of NASA’s UAS ASRS reporting in the airspace makes submitting reports important and significant.


What happens to the submitted information?


ASRS takes the information it receives, interprets the data, and produces products and services to promote aviation safety. These include:

  • Alert Messages –- safety information sent to organizations in positions of authority so they can evaluate the information and take possible corrective actions.

  • Quick Responses – rapid turnaround data analysis typically accomplished within two to ten business days of request. These are generally limited to government agencies such as FAA, DOT, NTSB, NASA, and U.S. Congress. (144 thru Dec. 2020).

  • Search Requests – information in the ASRS Database is available publicly. Members of the aviation community may submit a search request to the ASRS and may receive a relevant report. Direct access is also available to search de-identified reports in the ASRS database at https://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/search/database.html. (7.5K thru Dec. 2020).

  • Monthly newsletter – CALLBACK presents timely and relevant report excerpts. All issues since December 1994 are available for download at the ASRS website at: https://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/publications/callback.html (more than 32K subscribers).

  • Focused Studies/Research – 64 research studies have been published covering topics on Operations, Human Factors, and Confidential Reporting.

 

Resources and Links:

UAS webpage: https://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/uassafety.html

ASRS Program: https://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/overview/summary.html

Lots of great info and graphs in here https://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/docs/ASRS_ProgramBriefing.pdf