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ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (03.11.06): Aviation Safety Reporting System

Aero-Tips!

A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of "there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.

Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner, master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us -- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we might never have considered before, or something that didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for the practical test.

It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow them to soar magnificently through it.

Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips. Remember... when it comes to being good pilots, we're all in this together.

Aero-Tips 03.10.06

Many call it aviation’s "get out of jail free" card. It’s the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS).

Administered by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the ASRS is best known to pilots as the form we carry to report something that goes wrong on a flight before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) might initiate "certificate action," or a possible suspension of our pilot certificates. The "get out of jail free" aspect of ASRS, however, is not the program’s end goal—it’s the incentive we have as pilots (and mechanics, controllers and other aviation professionals) to provide input to NASA’s safety database.

Purpose of the ASRS is to "lessen the likelihood of aviation accidents" by:

  1. Identifying deficiencies and discrepancies in the National Airspace System (NAS) so they can be remedied;
  2. Supporting policy planning and NAS improvements; and
  3. Strengthening the foundation of aviation human factors research.

ASRS seeks to include safety data in research from incidents that do not make it into the database otherwise (via a National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB] accident report). Immunity from penalties is our incentive to voluntarily submit information. The FAA has "committed itself not to use ASRS information against [submitters] in enforcement actions. NASA "de-identifies" submissions, i.e., removes all personal identification from reports, before entering them into the safety database.

Claiming Immunity

FAR 91.25 "prohibits the use of any reports submitted... under the ASRS (or information derived therefrom) in any disciplinary action, except information concerning criminal offenses or accidents..." This is generally interpreted to mean no civil penalty (fine or certificate suspension) will be levied in the case of an inadvertent transgression that did not result in an accident. An "altitude bust," a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) transgression or a near-midair collision would be examples of cases where filing an ASRS report might prevent penalties.

Aero-tip of the day: See FAA Advisory Circular 00-46D for much more about the ASRS.

FMI: Aero-Tips

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