Report Critiques FAA Oversight Of Aviation Safety Action Program

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The FAA is not making good use of the benefits that could be provided by the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), according to a report by the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General that was released this week. "ASAP, as currently implemented, is a missed opportunity for FAA to enhance the national margin of safety," the OIG report says. The program allows airline employees to report safety violations to their employers and to the FAA without fear of reprisal. To realize the full benefits of ASAP, the FAA needs to clarify which incidents should be excluded from the program and emphasize to employees that ASAP is not an amnesty program, the OIG said. The agency also should develop a central database of ASAP reports and use it for trend analysis. "While ASAP is a potentially valuable safety tool, we found that FAA's ineffective implementation and inadequate guidance have allowed inconsistent use and potential abuse of the program," the report says.

Currently, 73 airlines participate in ASAP, which has been a thorny issue between airlines and pilot unions. American and Delta dropped out of the program last year after union leaders complained that pilots who voluntarily disclosed problems were unfairly punished. Comair, which had also dropped out, rejoined last week. "Reinstating this important program reaffirms Comair's commitment to continue developing a strong safety culture," said Comair President John Bendoraitis. "Programs such as ASAP are designed to help provide a safe and reliable work environment for our employees and travel experience for our passengers."