The US Federal Aviation Administration will soon issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) designed to "encourage the voluntary implementation" of flight operations quality assurance (FOQA) programmes among US airlines.

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey says that the FOQA data will not be used for punitive enforcement purposes and a companion NPRM proposes keeping certain safety information confidential.

FOQA data which would be shared include routine flight operation data obtained by analysis of information captured on quick-access flight-data recorders.

"From the experience of European carriers and through our own two-year demonstration study, we learned that the analysis of routine flight data provides significant benefits by identifying trends. These trends point out potential problems and enable us to take corrective steps before accidents happen," says Garvey.

US airlines and the FAA were, until recently, among the most reluctant converts to FOQA implementation. Its use has been hampered by concerns about the use of flight data for other than safety and operational-enhancement purposes, with airlines focusing on increased liability and possible punitive FAA actions for rule infractions and pilots concerned about sanctions by both airlines and the aviation agency.

Source: Flight International