Effectively Managing Risk across the National Airspace System

Client: U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Aviation Administration

Challenge: Air travel is one of the safest ways to reach a destination. When a system is so safe, how do you know where to place your focus to keep it that way? The answer is complex and everchanging.

To manage safety risk effectively across the National Airspace System (NAS), the FAA needed first to collect accurate information about what was happening in the system. With an outdated punitive policy and antiquated reporting structure, the FAA was missing key data about safety events from frontline employees closest to operations. As such, the agency was missing crucial information on their risk management system, resulting in an increased risk of safety failures.

Solution: The FAA partnered with CSSI to develop an air traffic safety action program (ATSAP) and provide a web-based tool to more than 20,000 air traffic controllers so they could voluntarily report safety-related events in the NAS in a non-punitive manner. The ATSAP website now provides online training, safety analysis, corrective action tracking, and safety promotion functionality, as well as data-sharing functionality that allows information sharing on a particular safety event between controllers, pilots and airlines. This web-based tool not only allows controllers to report safety events, but also provides an online tool set for management to review submitter reports and conduct event review committee meetings. The tool also includes a messaging and communication module that ensures anonymity -- a critical factor in the whole process.

Results:
A tool now exists for frontline employees to report safety-related events in the NAS voluntarily and in a non-punitive fashion, which has resulted in:

  • More than 15,000 (over 70 percent) of controllers using ATSAP to report safety events.
  • More than 70,000 safety event reports collected to date.
  • Safety-related data from ATSAP shared with other major safety databases within the FAA and aviation industry for purpose of analysis.
  • The generation of more than 35 ATASP positives per quarter. ATSAP positives are improvements in current operations that are direct results of corrective actions taken based on the ATSAP reports.
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