The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is a voluntary, confidential and non-punitive incident reporting system. It is a cooperative program established under FAA Advisory Circular No. 00-46D, funded by the FAA and administered by NASA. Information collected by the ASRS is used to identify deficiencies and discrepancies in the National Aviation System and enhance the basis for human factors research and recommendations for future operations.
Pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, maintenance technicians, ground personnel, and others involved in aviation operations can submit reports to the ASRS when they are involved in, or observe, an incident or situation in which they believe aviation safety was compromised.
The FAA provides limited immunity from regulatory enforcement action to reporters as an incentive to report incidents. One stipulation is that a reporter must file a report within 10 days of the incident. The program protects the identity of the reporter and all other parties involved in an occurrence. The FAA may not seek and NASA may not release to the FAA any information that might reveal the identity of any party involved. NASA ASRS forms are distributed for operational personnel to use in reporting incidents.
The ASRS program was established in 1976. The ASRS database on the ASIAS portal contains reports between 1988 and the present.
Using the Database
All identifying information is removed from the report before the data is entered into the ASRS database (aircraft make and model were removed until 1995). The data includes the reporters' narratives. These narratives provide a rich source of information for understanding the nature of hazards and human factors. The database also contains coded information from the original report, which may be used for analyses.
The data received in an ASRS report represents what reporters communicate they saw or experienced. Except through the alert message part of the program, ASRS reports are not investigated, and therefore the accuracy of the reported information is not verified. The reporter's experience, visibility conditions, duration of the event, trauma experienced by the reporter or other factors can influence the accuracy of the data.
For example, estimates by even senior pilots of how far aircraft descend during encounters with clear air turbulence often differ considerably from the actual distances recorded on aircraft flight data recorders. Also, reporters may be inclined to send in a report to minimize their culpability if they violated a federal regulation. However, this is becoming more the exception rather than the rule as more operational personnel gain confidence in using the program.
Many factors can influence the decision to file a report, such as, lack of awareness of ASRS, motivation to report which can differ considerably between different segments of the aviation community, and the perceived severity of an incident may influence the decision to report. The cumulative effect of these and other factors is that ASRS reports submitted to NASA represent a portion of the total number of similar events that may and could be reported.
For these reasons ASRS information should not generally be used to determine distributions or trends but may be very effective for identifying hazards, accident precursors and safety issues for further analysis.