The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) and Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) are two of the most common voluntary aviation reporting programs. While both the ASRS and ASAP provide a means of reporting situations which impact safety, there are several important differences.

Through the ASRS, any user of the National Airspace System (NAS) can report actual or potential discrepancies and deficiencies involving the safety of aviation operations. NASA, as an independent third-party, processes all reports and ensures the anonymity of the reporter so long as the report does not involve an accident or criminal activity, and FAR 91.25 prohibits the FAA from using the report in an enforcement action.  Filing an ASRS report does not prevent the FAA from taking enforcement action if the FAA learns of the event independently.  However, the FAA will waive the penalty for the violation by not imposing a civil penalty or certificate suspension if an ASRS report was filed timely and certain enumerated conditions are met, such as the violation being inadvertent and not deliberate.

The ASAP is a means of identifying and correcting hazards and unsafe conditions in the NAS. Only employees of eligible entities with an FAA-approved ASAP can file a report. Each report is reviewed by a committee containing representatives from management, the employees, and the FAA. Like the ASRS, certain categories of reports are not eligible for the ASAP. Unlike the ASRS, the committee plays a large role in deciding whether enforcement action will be taken, and the reporter is not kept strictly anonymous. 

The committee reviews the report to determine eligibility, identify safety issues, investigate the events, and propose solutions and corrective actions. There is a presumption that the ASAP report is acceptable, but the committee does have discretion to reject it after review. For accepted reports containing violations by an employee, the FAA will not pursue an enforcement action against the employee if the employee timely completes the recommendations of the committee.

photos of AOPA employee Ian Arendt

Ian Arendt

Ian Arendt is an in-house attorney with AOPA’s Legal Services Plan. The AOPA Legal Services plan is offered as part of AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services.

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