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Winging It! With Dr. Paul

Incident Reporting

Are you a safe pilot? I've yet to ask that question of any Sunday flier who didn't answer in the affirmative. We all have a high opinion of our flying skills, not because we have egos the size of a C5 (though well we might), but rather because if we didn't honestly consider ourselves safe, we simply wouldn't take to the skies. Contrary to popular belief, few pilots are by nature suicidal.

Yet cautious as we consider ourselves, every one of us occasionally does something inherently unsafe. Generally, we are lucky enough to walk away saying "gee, I'll never do that again!" We tend to learn from our mistakes.

But do others? Only if we share our experiences. And that's where NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System comes in. Under a veil of total anonymity, you can input those embarrassing moments into a growing data base, the contents of which are available to safety researchers, highlights of which appear in "Callback", a monthly NASA aviation safety newsletter. Reporting forms are free from your local Accident Prevention Counselor (that's me), and NASA even pays the postage!

What should you report to ASRS? Anything you experience which you feel compromises aviation safety. If you did something dumb, or ATC dealt you a cruel blow, or the weather surprised you, or the airplane didn't treat you with all due respect . . . write it up! And if you're worried about implicating yourself in a possible FAR violation, don't be. As an incentive to share your experiences, the FAA even permits limited immunity from enforcement action for those who file ASRS reports in a timely manner. They say that they consider filing the form "indicative of a constructive attitude", and take that into account, as long as the violation doesn't involve (a) criminal action, or (b) an actual accident.

In summary, today's safety tip is: save others the embarrassment of making the same mistake you just made. Write it up!

Toni Wakes drawing

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this page last updated 14 June 2007
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