The U.S. has an incredibly safe aviation system, partly because safety concerns are identified and corrected before they become real problems. NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is one of the tools used to make the system safe.

Having celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, NASA’s confidential ASRS is widely used by pilots and other airline employees to identify potential hazards. This information is one of 185 data and information sources across government and industry used by the FAA and the aviation community to detect, mitigate, and monitor risk. Safety concerns are submitted to ASRS in the form of incident reports. The system analyzes these cases and responds by distributing vital information from its conclusions to the aviation community. The reports also are used to identify deficiencies and discrepancies in the National Airspace System that need to be remedied.

"Voluntary reporting programs have significantly contributed to the nation's impressive commercial aviation safety record," said FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, Peggy Gilligan. "In addition to reporting programs that are investigated and verified, ASRS gives aviation workers another way to report potential safety issues."

Over the past 40 years, the ASRS has issued more than 6,200 safety alerts to the FAA and other decision-makers in the aviation community who are in a position to correct unsafe conditions. Recent alerts have addressed issues such as air traffic departure procedures, aircraft equipment problems, and airport signage and marking issues. Other significant ASRS accomplishments include identification of fire hazards associated with the packaging of lithium ion batteries for shipment in aircraft, health hazards associated with the use of certain de-icing fluids, and the susceptibility of certain pressure-sensitive aircraft systems to icing from super-cooled water droplets.

Since 2006, all reports have been logged and processed with full anonymity, and the data has been accessible to the public. In the past 10 years, the ASRS Database has had more than 189,000 queries. Database reports, program overview materials, and ASRS reporting forms are divided up into four categories: pilots and dispatchers, air traffic controllers, maintenance technicians and ground crew, and cabin crew.

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