WASHINGTON – The U. S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in partnership with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), today formally announced a safety reporting program called the Airport Voluntary Reporting System (AVRS). The program allows FAA employees who work in the Office of Airports to elevate safety concerns without fear of retaliation. Employees began using the AVRS on July 2, 2014. The 18-month pilot program is open to all Office of Airports employees.
The AVRS process begins when an employee files a confidential report to raise a safety issue through an online reporting system. An AVRS Oversight Board composed of three FAA executives will then review, investigate, and help resolve the reported items. The Board will send recommendations to the appropriate manager and monitor the agreed-upon solution. The Board also will send a final report to the employee who raised the safety concern, after removing identifying information and posting a resolution report for all Airports employees to view. The board members must sign a confidentiality agreement.
“Safety is our highest priority, and it is critical that the Department of Transportation and our partners promote a culture of safety,” said U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “A culture of safety means that employees can report safety concerns freely, without retaliation, so that the millions of airline passengers may have the best, safest experience possible.”
The FAA offered an initial program to the airport certification safety inspector workforce several years ago, and is now expanding the program to all 550 Office of Airports employees across the country as a tool to quickly elevate safety-related concerns. The FAA expects that most safety concerns will continue to be resolved at a local level; however, AVRS will provide another way for employees to identify potential safety issues. The pilot program mirrors existing voluntary safety reporting programs for other FAA lines of business. For example, the Air Traffic Safety Action Program, through the Air Traffic Organization, allows air traffic controller and other employees to voluntarily report safety and operational concerns.
“The FAA has a workforce dedicated to the agency's safety mission,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “This program will offer formal voluntary reporting opportunities to even more of our employees.”
“The expansion of the AVRS marks an important step in our many collaborative efforts with the FAA to strengthen our commitment to improving aviation safety through open, non-punitive reporting systems,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “It's another way the FAA is growing the scope of its safety culture.”
The FAA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NATCA, which represents 338 of the 550 Airports employees. As part of the agreement, a NATCA representative will sit on the Board to address reports filed by NATCA bargaining unit employees.
"It is nice to share the Office of Airports vision for a safety reporting system that is collaborative and will directly and comprehensively address the safety concerns of both FAA and NATCA,” said NATCA Regional Vice president Mike MacDonald. “Removing the fear of retaliation is an important step forward."
Employees and managers will receive training on how to use the online reporting system, information about the AVRS process, and reporting timelines.