Rules of the sky

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to take advantage of airline digital

flight recorder data to improve the safety of its airspace system.

Under the proposed Flight Operational Quality Assurance rule, if an

airline chooses to have an FOQA program, it must share aggregate flight

operations data with the FAA for use in monitoring safety trends. The FAA

could use that data as a basis for making safety rules or to address situations

calling for remedial enforcement of an operator or aircraft.

An FOQA program involves the routine analysis of flight data generated

during line operations in order to reveal problems that require corrective

action and to enable corrective action before problems occur. Eight airlines

have FOQA programs, one has a program that is awaiting FAA approval and

five others say they plan to initiate programs in the future, according

to the FAA.

As part of the rule, voluntarily submitted safety information would

be protected from public disclosure.

The rule's comment period closes Oct. 3.

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