Safety Reporting & Reporting Systems in Aviation

A CASA Presentation on Safety Reporting

Video embedded from YouTube on 17 August 2012


Accidents are obvious and fortunately rare in the industry bur near misses as well as minor incidents are very common. Many incidents in this industry would go unnoticed if no one reported them. The reporting of incidents enables the industry to learn from them, and make the system as a whole safer. The chain of events that lead to a near miss are the same chain of events that lead up to an accident, especially at the level of the underlying cause (Reason, 1997)1. This contribution is going to touch on the types of reporting systems in aviation.

Why is it Important to report?

Once a major incident occurs, in spite of whether it was a public near miss or an actual accident a formal investigation is carried out to determine what happened and why2. Once the investigation is complete the findings are distributed among the industry with the anticipation that safety in the industry as a whole can be improved by ensuring the correct practices are put in place, in order to prevent a re-occurrence of the same near miss, incident or accident.

Reporting & Risk Management

They are three methods that are used in acquiring information for risk management; reporting, audits and accidents and major incidents2. Reporting of incidents is very important as it aids in developing prevention methods to avoid a re-occurrence. Incidents are normally minor but if left to re-occur they can easily develop into major incidents that result in accidents. It is therefore important for personnel to feel that they can report any incident without persecution or repercussion from management. This type of fear from personnel to report is normally found in organisations that have blame cultures. Encouraging incident reporting should be enforced as this is an industry where safety is crucial and plays a big part in the success and continuous growth of the industry. There various reporting systems that can be implemented. The advantage of having various methods is that if the person reporting is scared of the consequence they can give an anonymous report and so forth. The various reporting systems are discussed below.

Reporting Systems

1. Anonymous Reporting

This type of reporting enables people to report on incidents without disclosing their identity. However the draw back with anonymous reporting is that the system allows for a window of abuse by those reporting in that; you can have people reporting out of maliciousness. This method of reporting also makes it hard to get important information as one is unsure which information is actually trustworthy.

2. Protected Reporting

This type of reporting provides protection from any persecution. This system enables aircrew to report near misses and close calls in a voluntary manner with the knowledge that the report will be confidential and they will not be persecuted in any way. What makes this a successful system of reporting its it’s confidential nature.
The American ASRS (Aviation Safety Reporting System) which is run by NASA, an unbiased party offers immunity to those who report in a timely manner2.

3. Confidential Reporting

This type of reporting deals with the problems of Anonymous Reporting. Those reporting know their names will not be released to those who will blame. This kind of system in an organisation is important, as it reflects on the overall culture of the organisation, as it is still felt necessary to protect reporters2.

4. Mandatory Reporting

This type of reporting is demanded by legal requirement. This kind of reports can be kept confidential depending on the organisation, however this reporting is specific about the individuals. This reporting does adhere to Annex 13 in regards to the blame-free nature3. However there is the possibility of prosecution occurring in this type of reporting depending on additional information or evidence being obtained by the authorities concerned.

5. Open Reporting

This type of reporting might have a few constraints placed on it, the name of the person who places the report is known and is on the organisations system, however the organisation may produce a report with this reporting and leave out the name of the person. The name of the person who reported the incident however is available to those in the organisation or it may be restricted to those with, ‘a need to know’.

Different countries have different reporting programs in place. Some examples of known Reporting Programs are listed below4;


1. Reason, J.T.(1997). Managing the Risks of Organisational Accidents. Ashgate.

2. Hudson, P.(2008). Safety Management & Safety Culture. Journal of Aviation Management: Singapore Aviation Academy.

3. ICAO Annex 13. International Investigation Standards. Retrieved 6 October, 2010, from

4. JDPerezgonzalez, & Sue79(2009). Human Factors Reporting Programmes: List of Programmes. Retrieved 6 October, 2010, from

5. CASA Safety Reporting. Retrieved from Youtube on 17 August 2012.

Want to know more?

Safety Culture: Concepts

Safety Culture: Measurement


Contributors to this page

Melanie AttanMelanie Attan

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