Program and Data Limitations Impede the Effectiveness of FAA’s Hazardous Materials Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program
Transporting hazardous materials by air can present serious safety risks, including the risk of combustible materials igniting or exploding on an aircraft. To promote safety and incentivize carriers to comply with hazardous materials regulations, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established the Hazardous Materials Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program (HM VDRP) in 2006, which allows air carriers to voluntarily disclose hazardous materials safety violations without penalty. However, FAA does not have an adequate framework to carry out the HM VDRP effectively. Specifically, FAA lacks sufficient internal controls, including oversight, training, and guidance, to ensure that air carriers have implemented effective corrective fixes that will prevent hazardous materials violations from recurring. In addition, FAA does not use HM VDRP data to identify safety risks. While the overall number of HM VDRP cases is small, FAA is missing opportunities to combine HM VDRP data with data from other sources, such as compliance inspections, to identify trends that could impact safety. We made nine recommendations to improve FAA’s HM VDRP framework, oversight, and use of data for identifying safety trends. FAA concurred with eight recommendations and partially concurred with one. Based on FAA’s response, we have requested additional information, including planned actions and timeframes, for five recommendations.