Voluntary Reporting Systems Federal Government Term Paper

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An ongoing concern at the NASA Ames Research Center pertains to the human factors in the safety of aviation, which was considered to a great extent during the development of the ASRS. The data analysts, who are principally experts in air traffic control and aircraft operations, give insight relating to the nature of human errors and other fundamental factors regarding the incidents. Even though the reports are encoded in detail, the entire narrative text of all the reports is preserved, in case they are needed for evaluation at a later stage. (Office of Technology Assessment, United States Government Printing Office, 1988)

The effectiveness with which the data is collected and stored by a program like ASRS is just one part of the reporting side of the incident. More important is the potency of the feedback loop, of the reporting system, to the industry and the reporters to whom its serves. The analytical process of increasing new knowledge, enabling "learning" to the people who use the incident reporting system, accepting the operational problems which is inevitable in a complex system and the course of "truth-seeking" is taken care of by the feedback. The feedback mechanism of the reporting system reaches the users' system directly, thus enabling this process of learning to take place. It also aids in ensuring that the corrective actions taken will be effective and appropriate. Exhibit 1 portrays the loop of incident reporting and the analytical feedback. There are four crucial elements in the loop- (i) the reporters; (ii) the narratives of the reporters; (iii) the database of the incident records; (iv) the learning which is obtained due to the dissemination of the information. A strong feedback mechanism offers assurance to the individuals that the information provided by them is being used wisely; it also contributes towards encouraging persons to continue reporting. ("ASRS: The Case for Confidential Incident Reporting Systems," n. d.)

In order to enhance safety and security further in aviation, collaboration was made between the FAA, NASA and NTSB for examining options and making recommendations regarding potentially practical technologies. Technologies suggested for the detection of existing disaster precursors and for forecasting probable safety issues in the aviation system, which was developed in parallel by NASA, became the ASMM -- Aviation System Monitoring and Modeling Project. It was established in 1999 and was made up of four elements- Intramural Monitoring, Modeling and Simulations, Data Analysis Tools and Extramural Monitoring. The last element, i.e. Extramural Monitoring consisted of ASRS and NAOMS -- National Aviation Operational Monitoring Service. Since ASRS is a voluntary reporting system, it is not appropriate for using it as a comparative statistical examination of changes in NAS -- National Aviation System. Hence, the management of ASMM Project designed NAOMS for enhancing and complementing the ASRS information. Survey data when evaluated routinely, would help aviation community's decision makers to measure safety quantitatively, appraise the trends, recognize factors which drive those trends and appraise the effects of the new procedures and technologies which are introduced in the NAS. (NASA Office of Inspector General, 2008) major aspect which contributes to the success of ASRS has been the participation of the complete aviation stakeholders' community in the structure of an Advisory Committee of the industry. The Committee offers its aviation expertise, criticism, guidance and advocacy. Semiannual meetings are held by NASA along with the Committee for reviewing the programmatic changes and proposed policies before they are implemented. In effect it can be seen that incident reporting systems which are confidential like the one based on the model of ASRS is not a foolproof method for acquiring data; they are exposed to the fears and biases of the humans. Although voluntary incident reports are treated as a representative model of the events that they describe, it cannot be considered to be so. However, since many years the ASRS model has demonstrated that if the users of the system are confident about reporting problems of safety encountered by them to a program in which they have faith in, the goals of safety would be attained much quicker than if the incidents were not reported by the volunteers. ("ASRS: The Case for Confidential Incident Reporting Systems," n. d.)

Exhibit 1


N.A. (n. d.) "ASRS: The Case for Confidential Incident Reporting Systems"

Retrieved 28 April, 2008 at http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/docs/rs/60_Case_for_Confidential_Incident_Reporting.pdf

N.A. (n. d.) "Aviation Safety Reporting System: Program Briefing"

Retrieved 28 April, 2008 at http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/overview/summary.html

NASA Office of Inspector General. (2008, Mar) "NASA OIG: Final Memorandum on the Review of the National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service" Retrieved 28 April, 2008 at http://www.earthtoday.net/news/viewsr.html?pid=27520

Office of Technology Assessment, United States Government Printing Office. (1988, Jul)

Safe skies for tomorrow: aviation safety in a competitive environment" DIANE Publishing.

United States General Accounting Office. (1997, Dec) "Aviation safety: efforts to implement flight operational quality assurance..." DIANE Publishing.

Wells, Alexander T; Rodrigues, Clarence C. (2003) "Commercial Aviation Safety" McGraw-Hill Professional.[continue]

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