November 25, 2013
The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF), which formally launched its Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) in the Great Lakes region in August 2012, is working to expand the program next in the Western Pacific, New England and Eastern regions, ACSF President Bryan Burns says.
The program is one of a couple of cornerstone programs that the organization has been developing as it continues to expand its membership and reach new categories of members.
ACSF originally worked with the Minneapolis Flight Standards District Office to launch the ASAP for a couple of operators last year and has slowly grown the program to about a dozen operators within the Great Lakes region. ASAP is a reporting program that allows employees to identify and report safety issues to management and to the FAA for resolution, without fear that the FAA will use reports accepted under the program to take legal enforcement action against them, or that companies will use such information to take disciplinary action.
While more established with large commercial carriers, FAA has said that the Part 135/91K community is a fast-growing segment to adopt the program with close to 20 participants, including the ACSF’s program. The ACSF initiative was established to enable small and medium-sized operations to participate.
ACSF has received interest from numerous operators to participate in other regions throughout the U.S., but the program has grown slowly for a couple of reasons. First, it requires time and resources from FAA, both of which have been in short supply with sequestration and the recent government shutdown. Second, some confusion existed within certain regions about whether the program had headquarters approval, Burns says.
FAA headquarters officials, who have strongly encouraged participation in such programs, are developing guidance endorsing participation in the effort, Burns says. And even with limited resources, agency officials continue to work with ACSF on establishing the ASAP on a wider scale.
ACSF recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the agency in the Western Pacific region to establish the program there. ACSF has also been in negotiations with both the Eastern and New England regions to establish MOUs, and Burns is optimistic that those will be in place soon.
But Burns notes interest in the program is going beyond the fixed-wing Part 135 community. The Helicopter Association International has reached out to ACSF to discuss possibilities for its members, Burns says. Large corporate flight departments have also inquired about it. Burns notes the MOUs with FAA were currently tailored only for the Part 135 community, but he says the ACSF is exploring possibilities to accommodate Part 91 operations.
The expansion would enable ACSF to build up a database of safety reports to track safety trends. “We’re trying to build volume,” he says. “It’s all about the data. It’s what moves safety. The qualitative results the airlines have gotten have helped them with their safety record. We are trying to apply that to business aviation.” Early returns of the ACSF program showed that 86% of the reports are from a single source, which means that the operator might not otherwise have learned about the event.