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Feature Article 2


Dru Babcock, WVFC CFI


Should I file a NASA report? 


Ummm, seriously: YES!

When I was new to aviation, I had heard of this but I was skeptical; I didn’t actually file a report until years later, when I realized the amazing value of this system: it may have saved my tail and prevented the scenario from happening to someone else! 


What is a NASA Report?


If you think that you may have potentially violated airspace… Or if you followed (what you thought was) ATC instructions only to find that they actually asked for something different… Or the controller asked you to do something that you feel was incorrect or unsafe…Or, if a little voice in your head is saying: “Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have done that” or “That wasn’t safe” (or some version of these thoughts), then the answer is: Yes, file a NASA Report. 


You have ten days from the occurrence to submit it. Otherwise, you are potentially leaving yourself wide open for enforcement. Also, if you see or hear of someone else doing something that was a close call, then you can report this occurrence anonymously. 


The benefits: If you goof up or get caught off guard (we all do this occasionally), it need not cost you a Civil Penalty or your hard-earned pilot certificate. You get immunity from enforcement (if you were not clearly acting with malice). Some people call this a “Get out of jail free card”; I don’t recommend thinking of this system as this, but it’s a great way to communicate blind spots and errors in the system. 


Your protection (the amazing value to you): immunity to FAA (and all other organizations’) enforcement. Your report is anonymous once it is processed by the ASRS (Aviation Safety Reporting System) at NASA; your name and all contact info is removed before it gets to anyone who would implement enforcement.


Service to our system: You are giving direct feedback to the people who need it. Contributing a NASA report will allow someone to fix the problem. Your report is sent to an independent, third party organization (ASRS) and your identity information is removed before it is analyzed and organized into a useable report.


Where to find the blank report to file: do an Internet search for “NASA reports” and it will show up. Submit it instantly online. It’s also in the AIM. Sign up for their newsletter and go read the database of other reports, which have been analyzed, put into useable format and organized by subjects. See some of the funny (and hazardous) situations that others have found themselves in. I have learned quite a lot from grazing the database of close calls (accidents that didn’t happen). It’s a great reality check and you will see that everyone, from newly-minted pilots through career Airline Transport Pilots make these reports (and goof up or get caught off guard occasionally). See how these people get themselves into hazardous situations and identify a scenario before you find yourself in the same place! 


Ask your flight instructor about this! 


Make a report and find out more:

ASRS - Aviation Safety Reporting System - Electronic Report Submission