Aviation Safety Reporting System
The ASRS was established in April 1976 under an agreement between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an independent scheme for voluntary aviation occurrence reporting in the USA which would confer conditional immunity from FAA Enforcement Action as a means of encouraging reports of lapses which might otherwise not be known about.
The ASRS in run by NASA and largely funded by the FAA. It receives, processes and analyses voluntarily submitted incident reports from pilots, air traffic controllers and others. Reports submitted to ASRS describe, from the subjective perspective of the reporter, both unsafe occurrences and hazardous situations. The particular focus of ASRS is the effect of human performance in the aviation system. Individuals involved in aviation operations (pilots, crew members, ground personnel, etc.) can submit reports to the ASRS when they are involved in or observe a situation that they believe compromised safety and provided that these reports are the only ones received about an occurrence, immunity from FAA Enforcement Action is thereby obtained - see the relevant FAA Circular under Further Reading below.
Each Report is assessed by at least two appropriately qualified persons who are able to identify any aviation hazards. The NASA publication CALLBACK is a widely distributed monthly bulletin which contains selected dis-identified excerpts from ASRS incident reports with supporting commentary and may also include summaries of ASRS-based research studies and related aviation safety information. The ASRS database may also be searched online.
Whilst ASRS data has proved very useful in identifying both potential and actual issues, it has commonly also been ascribed the status of a statistically valid dataset when this is demonstrably not the case. Statistical claims based solely upon the prevalence of ASRS Reports should be treated with caution.
The relatively recent adoption of Flight Data Monitoring in the USA can be expected to have some effect on the use of ASRS by flight crew, since many FDM programs are associated with incentives to make supporting text reports to the Operator where an FDM Alert may have been triggered. The status of significant FDM occurrence findings in relation to ASRS immunity has not yet been explicitly addressed, and might have an effect the type of report made to ASRS by flight crew.