Air Safety Reporting Systems

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Air Safety Reporting Systems

40TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Geneva, Switzerland, 19-23 March 2001

WP No. 167

Air Safety Reporting Systems


Air Safety Reporting Systems can be found in the IFATCA Manual on page 4423.

At the 39th Annual Conference held in Marrakech Morocco, SC7 was asked to update policy on Air Safety Reporting Systems.


There are two policy statements regarding Air Safety Reporting Systems.

Section 17-2-3 in the IFATCA Professional Manual states:

Whereas IFATCA thinks a Voluntary Reporting System is essential, MAs should promote the creation of Air Safety reporting Systems and Confidential Reporting Systems among their members.


This is the central point to this issue. Although many MA’s have a reporting system, for those that do not, this policy is still relevant. Until we achieve universal acceptance of the need for a confidential reporting system, this policy should remain unchanged.

Section 17-2-3 in the IFATCA Professional Manual states:

IFATCA shall not encourage MAs to join a Voluntary Incident Reporting System unless there is guaranteed immunity for the controller who is reporting.


Any voluntary incident reporting system shall be based on the following principles:

a) in accordance and in co-operation with pilots, air traffic controllers and ATC authorities;

b) the whole procedure shall be confidential, which shall be guaranteed by law;

c) guaranteed immunity for those involved; executed by an independent body.

Although there have been tremendous changes in the aviation industry in the last decade, the premise of a Voluntary Reporting System has remained essentially unchanged since the concept was introduced in Rio/1998 and many MA’s have excellent systems which follow the requirements set forth in Alculpoco/1990. Most allow reports from various aviation perspectives such as UK’s Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Procedure. CHIRP currently receives confidential incident reports from professionally licensed pilots, air traffic controllers, licensed engineers and approved maintenance organizations employed within the UK air transport industry. These multiple inputs help develop a more complete database which should help to quickly identify trends that could lead to accidents.

Confidentiality appears to be assured by each of the investigated reporting systems as guaranteed by law. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) states in its documents that “the Director of Air Safety Investigation guarantees to keep your identity confidential” and further states that “personal details will not be recorded”. None of the systems would allow an anonymous report.

It appears most reporting systems are administered by the aviation or transportation bureaus from their coinciding MA. Although this is in violation of the IFATCA policy, it does not surface as a concern for most users. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration for example, administer the USA’s ASRS, which is separate from the Federal Aviation Administration while the ATSB administer its own Confidential Aviation Incident Report (CAIR) system.

Many MA’s have viable reporting systems that are within the guidelines of the IFATCA Professional Manual. Several can be accessed via the Internet including the Korea Confidential Aviation Incident Reporting System (KAIRS) and the Taiwan Confidential Aviation Incident Reporting System (TACARE).

The one unanimous conclusion with those that administer these reporting systems is the notion that they are tremendously under-utilized. The suspicions are that many systems errors occur that are never reported. This is due to both a reluctance of the ATC to admit to an error and the inherent distrust of the confidentiality factor. SC7 do believe that we should encourage our members to report system problems and errors so the statistical data can truly reflect the efficiency of the system. This is the justification of the additional policy language.


An efficient Air Safety Reporting System is essential in a modern Air Traffic Control system to determine error and incident causes that can be used to identify deficiencies in the system. Without a confidential reporting system, deficiencies could be left unchecked, potentially leaving catastrophic results. Air Traffic Controllers must have an avenue to report errors and problems, without fear of retribution, to a central reporting agency that can track negative trends.


The following policy statement should be incorporated in the IFATCA Manual on page 4423 as paragraph 2.2.4:

“Member associations that have Air Safety Reporting Systems that meet IFATCA policy shall encourage their members to utilize their system to its fullest extent.”

Last Update: September 28, 2020  

March 12, 2020   717   Jean-Francois Lepage    2001    

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