MROs have yet to embrace sharing of safety data: FAA

Phoenix
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Maintenance organisations have yet to embrace voluntary sharing of safety data that will be key to the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) risk-based safety approach going forward, says the agency’s associate administrator for aviation safety Peggy Gilligan during the MRO Americas conference in Phoenix on 8 April.

“While the commercial airline community has embraced voluntary safety reporting, and they are benefitting from that participation, we’ve not yet seen the MRO community embrace those reporting programmes,” she says.

Fourty-five commercial airlines provide safety data through the FAA’s aviation safety information analysis and sharing programme (ASIAS), however only about 25 feed in voluntary reports for maintenance data today, says Gilligan. Those reports from the Aviation Safety Action Programme (ASAP) comprise one of several data sources that the ASIAS uses.

Despite this, she notes that the FAA signed an agreement last week with the first MRO organisation that will use the ASIAS programme and is in negotiations with a second maintenance provider to do the same.

“There’s a lot more data out there that all of us can collect and all of us can benefit if we can bring it together and analyse it as a community,” says Gilligan.

The Virginia-based Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) has raised the issue that the FAA may not have enough inspectors to support the programme, which Gilligan says she thinks is a “reasonable criticism.”

“It could very well be that we at FAA need to find a way to streamline the process to make it easier for maintenance organisations to participate in voluntary data reporting programmes,” says Gilligan. “And maybe we just haven’t done enough to sell the value.”

The FAA is focused on using a risk-based approach to identify safety issues in light of declining budgets, a cornerstone of which is using data sharing programmes to predict the highest risks.

“I firmly believe that the future of aviation safety will ride on the coattails of data sharing, and I think it is without question the single most important step forward that we made for safety over the last 10 years,” says Gilligan.