In 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration implemented a program called Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing, or ASIAS. The program is meant to be a central hub for data sharing among industry members, including airlines and other operators, the FAA and NTSB.
This was no easy feat. Off to a slow start, the FAA had to determine how to merge data from its own databases with over 44 airlines, NASA, the NTSB, manufacturers and other organizations' data, while protecting sensitive information and de-identifying all of the data to ensure anonymity and encourage participation. Additionally, the FAA and data-sharers had to reach formal agreements with each other, which, as anyone knows, is often the most daunting task.To add fuel to the fire, the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 meant that airline safety was once again under scrutiny, and the accident investigation process resulted in a call for an audit of the FAA's data sharing program in an effort to improve airline safety.
Since the initial hurdles have been conquered, though, the ASIAS program seems to be a success.
Public data that has been incorporated into ASIAS comes from air traffic control data, and includes weather, procedural and traffic data. Airlines and air traffic controllers contribute a majority of the data to ASIAS from their own programs, such as ATSAP, ASAP and FOQA programs, in which the data has been de-identified already. ASAP and FOQA programs usually operate in concurrence with each other, where ASAP data is gathered in the form of pilot reports and FOQA data is taken from flight recorders.
The ATSAP program is a new ATC program that mimics the ASAP programs that airlines employ. With ATSAP, controllers can submit anonymous reports regarding safety issues they might witness on the job.
At least 44 airlines now share data with the ASIAS program. In addition, government entities such as the FAA, NTSB, NASA, Naval Air Force Atlantic, and the USAF Safety Center are participating, as well.
Other industry organizations are participating in the ASIAS program, too. These include AIA, ALPA, APA, A4A, Boeing, NACA, NATCA and RAA.
A team of ASIAS members, including airline and FAA representatives, have formed an executive board, which meets to review and analyze data, conduct studies and assess safety program improvements with the intention of reducing the overall safety risk of air travel.
In the future, the FAA hopes to expand this data sharing initiative even further, encouraging business and general aviation organizations, along with international operations, to share data.