Meanwhile, Europe's goal of creating a database of aviation occurrence reports from across the region that aids in spotting broad safety trends is nearly met, as both data quality and reporting consistency improve.
The European Commission's (EC) European Central Repository (ECR) has amassed nearly 665,000 aviation occurrence reports since 2005. The number of reports each year increased as more countries began contributing; 2011 marked the first year all 31 EASA MS sent reports. The database lists 90,000-120,000 occurrences from each of the last four years, compared to 70,000 or fewer per year from 2005-08.
While the quantity of reports is improving, quality remains a concern. Nearly half, or 48%, of the occurrence reports lack basic trending data, such as the type of operation—airline or general aviation—involved in each incident. Another 45% of the reports involved commercial transports, by far the largest identifiable category.
Each occurrence record lists specific details, such as the category of occurrence—air traffic management, bird strike, etc.—and the result.
The largest subset, about 20% of all occurrences in the database, fall under the nebulous “other” category. Further analysis showed that many of these were medical situations with passengers or crewmembers, leading EASA to create a new category. The most common identified occurrence categories in the database are ATM/CNS [communications, navigation surveillance] (about 100,000 occurrences), system/component failure—non-powerplant (50,000), ground handling (30,000) and bird strike (30,000).
Top results of reported occurrences were aircraft return and missed approach (about 11,000 each), rejected takeoff (7,000), diversion (5,000) and declared emergency (4,000).
A “network of analysts” from EASA, Eurocontrol and the EC pore through the ECR data, EASA explains. The analysts review and attempt to improve the quality of existing data and the reporting efforts. Eventually, ECR-related findings will be combined with other information sources to help EASA prioritize safety improvement efforts.