The NASA Ames Research Center team supporting the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) has received the Center’s 2020 Honor Award for ensuring operational continuity of this vital national safety program during the COVID-19 pandemic. NASA ASRS Director Becky Hooey nominated the team for this competitive award in recognition of significant efforts to reduce report processing time in order to more rapidly deliver COVID-related safety information to the aviation industry.
This rapid report-processing turn-around time enabled the team to identify emerging safety threats that were briefed weekly to senior management at the FAA including the FAA administrator, the Aviation Safety Management Team (AVSMT), and the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) Executive Committee. These reports illuminated COVID-related safety threats and were used to support changes and exceptions to regulations to adapt to the COVID environment. The ASRS team held 3 safety telecons, issued 10 Safety Alert Bulletins, and published 2 newsletters to highlight safety concerns that were either directly related to COVID or surprising unexpected secondary and tertiary effects that impacted pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, dispatchers, ground operations, and maintenance workers. Likewise, the C3RS team has significantly reduced report turn-around time, increased report processing output, and issued a special bulletin to the Federal Railroad Administration and participating carriers outlining the effects of COVID-related distraction, stress, and changes in operations.
A recent article in Bloomberg Law referenced the ASRS voluntary safety reports as an important part of the aviation industry’s early warning system. Citing FAA officials the article states “We are closely monitoring the data we receive from [the ASRS] voluntary reporting systems and have increased the number of information-sharing meetings we’re holding with operators….Indeed, the reason that concerns are being raised at the agency and the safety team is that the industry’s early warning system — which tracks flight data, thousands of reports from individual employees, and internal airline audits — has been adept at spotting issues before they become serious, according to FAA and industry officials.” Also, the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) recognized the value of the ASRS safety reports in an article called “Learning from NASA Reports During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. This article used NASA ASRS safety reports to provide safety recommendations for pilots operating during COVID times.
Metis is a major subcontractor to ASRS prime contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, and has been supporting the program with aviation safety subject matter experts performing analysis of over 100,000 annual aviation safety reports since 2011.
For more information, see https://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/