The FAA is continuing its focus on the safety of Part 135 operations.  The FAA has  announced that one of the most successful safety initiatives, the Aviation Safety Action Program (“ASAP”), will be streamlined and fully extended to cover Part 135 operators. 

Established in 1997, ASAP encourages air carrier and repair station employees to voluntarily report safety information that may be critical to identifying potential precursors to accidents.  Under the old system of inspection and enforcement, there was an incentive for a certificate holder to decline to report regulatory violations to the FAA in the hopes that they would never be discovered, thus avoiding any penalty.  Under ASAP, if a certificate holder discovers a problem, reports it to the FAA as soon as possible, and voluntarily undertakes quick remedial action, the FAA agrees not to issue any civil penalty.  This incentivizes an organization to constantly monitor performance, uncover problems and take remedial measures in a transparent manner.

Randy MacDonald, the ASAP Program Manager, recently stated that the existing memorandum of understanding (MoU) structure for the program will be changed to a less restrictive partnership agreement.  The partnership agreement will be streamlined to focus more clearly on what is expected by the FAA in terms of managing data and decision-making.

In addition, according to reports Mr. MacDonald also commented that:

[t]he FAA is committing to remove administration actions—meaning no letters of warning or correction—as long as a report is accepted into the program.  He stressed that employees must be “incentivized” to come forward, but disciplinary actions only serve to chill such activity.

Other changes ahead include the timeliness of the ASAP reports and activities, he said, noting that should be left up to the company on what works best rather than a predetermined timeline.

According to the FAA, at the beginning of this year, over 140 operators maintained almost 450 ASAP programs covering pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, dispatchers and other groups.  Under this initiative, this number should increase dramatically.  This change has been a long time in coming, but it’s never too late for a good idea to be implemented.