THE US FEDERAL Aviation Administration is planning to "secure" voluntarily reported incident data filed by US airlines, despite problems with the US Freedom of Information Act, according to FAA Administrator David Hinson.

Giving the keynote address at the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) 1995 seminar in Seattle on 7 November, Hinson admitted: "We don't know what's going on in the US air-transport industry." He attributes airlines' "...reluctance to volunteer information" to their concern about "adverse FAA action", fear of litigation and unfavourable press coverage.

According to Hinson, the FAA is being starved of data it needs to identify safety trends because, as soon as information is in the hands of any US Government agency, it becomes subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The main concern is that, with US air-safety standards already at a high level, one of the few areas where significant improvements can still be made is the use of incident data. "If we have to pick up the pieces to discover why accidents have occurred, we are not in charge. We have to be able to look ahead and adjust before it happens," maintains Hinson.

The FAA boss admits: "We are at the beginning of the process towards securing volunteered airline-incident information."

Source: Flight International