To enhance safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aviation industry use data to proactively detect risks and implement mitigation strategies before accidents and incidents occur. Since 2007, FAA’s Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) program has drawn together a wide variety of safety data and information across Government and industry to identify emerging, systemic safety issues. In 2013, we reported that FAA had made progress implementing ASIAS, but the system lacked advanced capabilities, and aviation safety inspectors’ access to ASIAS confidential data remained limited. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 directed our office to perform a follow-up review to assess FAA’s progress in improving ASIAS. Our objectives were to assess FAA’s (1) progress with implementing ASIAS and plans to improve the system, including its predictive capabilities, and (2) efforts to more widely disseminate results of ASIAS data analyses.
What We Found
FAA has made progress in implementing ASIAS since our 2013 review, but work remains to improve the program. For example, by September 2020, ASIAS grew to include data from 41 airlines, which according to FAA represents 99 percent of air carrier operations. However, FAA has not yet established a robust process for prioritizing analysis requests. Also, the Agency plans to make incremental enhancements to ASIAS, but the Agency does not expect to fully integrate predictive capabilities until 2025. In addition, while FAA provides some ASIAS information to aviation safety inspectors, the Agency does not provide access to national trend information that could improve their safety oversight. Further, inspectors do not widely use non-confidential ASIAS data for air carrier oversight due to the lack of guidance and the existing availability of similar data through other FAA databases.
We made three recommendations to improve FAA’s ability to better prioritize ASIAS efforts, provide improved data to aviation inspectors, and communicate the intended use and benefits of non-confidential ASIAS data. FAA concurred with all three recommendations and provided appropriate actions and completion dates.
No. 1 to FAA
Develop and implement models based on criteria to prioritize requests for ASIAS safety information across the ASIAS communities.
No. 2 to FAA
Disseminate ASIAS aggregated, confidential national-level metrics, such as known risk monitoring, on a regular basis to the Safety Analysis and Promotion Division and principal aviation safety inspectors.
No. 3 to FAA
Determine if the ASIAS non-confidential information is beneficial to Flight Standards inspectors, and if so, implement guidance to field-level personnel so that inspectors have an understanding of how, when, and why they should use the system.