When Airmen Err

“There was something unusual in the pilot’s voice, so I quickly keyed the microphone and said, ‘Yes! What do you see?’ The pilot said that there was another aircraft rolling from the approach end of [the runway]. … I feared that the [Cessna] was about to pull out in front of this other departing aircraft. Then I thought that I really didn’t know who any of these aircraft were, so I made the transmission, ‘EVERYONE STOP... STOP... STOP! CANCEL YOUR TAKEOFF CLEARANCE!’

Many pilots read aircraft accident reports. It’s not that we’re morbidly curious about the misfortunes of others; rather, we just hope to learn from the mistakes of others in order to avoid a similar fate. In addition to accident reports, what too many pilots overlook are the compiled reports from what we colloquially call “NASA Forms” – formally, form “NASA ARC 277B”.

The NASA Form is part of the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) and is used by airmen to voluntarily submit information about incidents. It may also be used by air traffic controllers, maintenance personnel, cabin crew, and aircraft dispatchers.

Pilots (and all certificated airmen) should know about the immunity offered by participation in the ASRS program. Specifically, if you inadvertently violate a regulation and submit a NASA Form in accordance with the program guidelines, you will not be subject to a monetary fine or a suspension of your airmen certificate! Note that the FAA likely will still investigate the incident, but in accordance with the Federal Aviation Regulations, the FAA may not use the information contained within a NASA Form submission to seek out an airmen for investigation – see 14 CFR 91.25. You should speak with a knowledgeable flight instructor or with an aviation attorney if you have questions regarding this program, which is detailed in the current version of Advisory Circular AC00-46.

NASA collects and analyzes information submitted in NASA Form reports and enters it into a searchable database. ASRS personnel also publish a monthly newsletter, CALLBACK, which highlights several incidents.

Click here to read the complete, online version of the above excerpt.

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Article by: Terry Keller Jr.