Aviation Safety Hazard Reporting Forms

Hazard Report Forms in Risk Management Process

Reporting is one of the first steps in mitigating risk in aviation safety management systems. We cannot say that reporting is the first step in risk management because the people reporting issues must first be educated on what type of reports are desirable for the safety team. Therefore, safety training and safety promotion activities are the first steps in aviation risk management activities.

Hazard report forms are necessary to provide structure to the hazard reporting process. Not all hazard report forms are identical. Different operators have different needs, as aviation service providers provide unique services, whether they are:

  • Airlines;
  • Airports;
  • Scheduled operators;
  • On-demand operators;
  • Flight schools;
  • Aviation maintenance organizations;
  • Military operations;
  • Police operations; and
  • Fixed based operators.

Different types of operations may require different types of information to mitigate risk or to manage the reported hazard. For example, an aviation maintenance organization may want to collect information about parts or aircraft types, while a flight school may be more interested in generic flight information.

Airline and airport hazard report forms can be used for integrated safety and quality management systems

Hazard Report Forms Not Just for Reporting Hazards

Hazard report forms is a bit of a misnomer. One is lead to believe that an aviation safety management program is only interested in potential or identified "hazards." This is not the entire picture. While reporting forms are useful for reporting hazards, they are also designed for:

As you can see, reporting forms are used for actual and potential events, or occurrences. Some systems use the term "safety occurrence," but we feel this is also a misleading term, as "occurrence" implies that something has happened, or occurred. Perhaps the best term for hazard reporting is "issue reporting," as an issue can be both actual or potential. Another benefit of using a generic term like "issue reporting" is that the scope is not limited to merely safety or security.

Hazard Report Forms Not Just for Safety

As we learned above, reporting forms for hazards need not to be limited to only aviation safety related events. Best-in-class aviation safety and quality programs encourage active issue reporting for issues related to:

  • Safety;
  • Security;
  • Quality (customer service);
  • Compliance (regulatory and contractual); and
  • Environmental.

Very simple and complex management systems are designed to manage each of these types of issues. The most efficient operators have recognized considerable benefits by extending one management system to accommodate issues that would normally exceed their original scope. For example, we commonly see airlines and airports use flexible safety management system (SMS) software to manage their quality management systems (QMS).

hazard reporting forms are how most aviation risk management programs begin to mitigate risk

To integrate a quality program into a safety program requires at least one generic hazard reporting form that captures information not normally requested in aviation safety reports. For most aviation SMS programs, we see reporting forms for:

  • Flight safety;
  • Aviation maintenance;
  • Cabin safety;
  • Air traffic control; and
  • General safety.

In practice, the "General Safety" reporting form is used for quality issues, such as:

  • Catering complaints;
  • Unruly pax;
  • Intoxicated pax;
  • Lost baggage;
  • Passenger complaints;
  • Ticketing problems; and
  • Boarding problems.

While these above issues may not be a safety concern (some of these are), they are submitted using the generic hazard reporting form.

Creating Hazard Reporting Forms

Whether you have an existing hazard reporting program or are beginning your aviation SMS implementation, you may be interested in learning how others create their reporting forms.

Many airlines and airports have learned from the past and modify their forms based on information that they consistently wish they had whenever reported issues enter their risk management framework. Other safety teams will review reporting forms from other sources, such as:

  • Online aviation SMS software
  • Civil aviation authorities' reporting forms
  • Hazard reporting form templates

Regardless of the source, reviewing the reporting forms from other companies offers many benefits.

aviation safety hazard reporting form templates save time and money for safety teams

Benefits of Hazard Report Form Templates

Using the work of others as a starting point for either creating new reporting forms or modifying your existing reporting forms offers many advantages. Perhaps the biggest benefit is the time saved for reworking your report forms or creating report forms from scratch. Using reporting form templates will save at least 50% on labor costs and up to 75% on development costs.

If you have ever been in a design meeting for company forms, you will realize the time it takes to explain the importance of every data field AND the order of each field in the reporting form. Hazard report form templates come from teams who have already spent hours designing and re-designing forms. If you are using a template as inspiration for your reporting forms, then you can be assured that most templates or sources have gone through many iterations. There is generally no need to re-create the wheel for aviation safety hazard report forms. Use the templates!

Best Practices for Hazard Reporting Forms

We can provide feedback because not only have we created many hazard reporting forms, but we have also used them. We know what works. We also use hazard report form templates when creating SMS Pro's hazard reporting software. We started from one of the best sources: NASA. Most aviation safety professionals are familiar with NASA's ASRS (Aviation Safety Reporting System). SMS Pro's first version was based on NASA's ASRS in 2007. In 2015, SMS Pro's offline hazard reporting tools used the updated NASA ASRS reporting forms as templates.

While NASA ASRS reporting forms are great templates, I believe they are a bit too long. They capture the most important information, but from an end-user's perspective, they may seem intimidating.

With this in mind, when you create your hazard reporting form, consider these guidelines:

  • Consider your objectives (complying with regulatory requirements?);
  • Consider your audience (education level, tolerance for long forms, time);
  • Keep forms as short as possible;
  • Use white-space to make the forms more readable;
  • Only ask for most important information (usually you can ask for more information later)

If your civil aviation authority has required information that you must submit, then these items should be considered. Some of the worst hazard reporting forms come from CAA templates. Government agencies tend to over-complicate the hazard reporting process, thereby retarding hazard reporting cultures. In most cases, don't use reporting form templates from CAAs.