The new EU Occurrence Reporting Regulation - applicable as of 15 November 2015 - is a comprehensive framework and a set of standards for reporting, collecting, storing, protecting and disseminating the relevant safety information. It also introduces requirements on information analysis and adoption of follow-up safety actions at national level.
1. Am I under a legal obligation to report events?
The new regulation specifies a list of persons who shall report occurrences identified as a significant risk to aviation safety through the mandatory reporting schemes. This includes the pilot in command, or, in cases where the pilot in command is unable to report, any other crew member next in the chain of command. The list is not limited to employees of organisations, but also extends to persons whose services are contracted (e.g. commercial, private, self-employed pilots, etc.).
2. Can other persons report as well?
Of course. The obligation for specific persons to report certain occurrences does not prevent other people from reporting under the normal operation of their organisations safety management system. There is also the possibility for these persons who are not subject to the mandatory reporting scheme to report through the voluntary reporting scheme. Each organisation, each Member State and the European Aviation Safety Agency shall establish voluntary reporting schemes.
3. What if I don’t report?
Events to be reported under the mandatory reporting systems are those which may represent a significant risk to aviation safety. You have a legal obligation to report occurrences in which you have been directly involved or aware of. However in addition to this legal obligation, reporting is a way to identify hazards and prevent incidents and accidents. Not reporting is not only illegal but also highly unprofessional and may put you and your colleagues and your passengers at risk.
4. Where / to whom do I Report?
You can report directly to your airline. If that is not possible, you can also report directly to your national authorities and agencies to the European Aviation Safety Agency which shall establish a mandatory reporting scheme.
5. What should I report?
The regulation specifies two separate but complementary reporting systems: a mandatory & a voluntary one. Implementing Regulation 2015/1018 provides the list of occurrences to be mandatorily reported. Outside the list of mandatory occurrences, the regulation encourages reporting through the voluntary reporting system for all other issues perceived as a threat to the aviation system.
Note: the Mandatory Occurrence Reporting list includes ‘Crew fatigue impacting or potentially impacting their ability to perform safely their flight duties’ listed under ‘Emergencies and other critical situations’.
6. If I report an accident or serious incident under this Regulation, shall I also report it to the competent safety investigation authority of the State of Occurrence?
Accidents and serious incidents, as defined within Regulation (EU) No 996/2010, are subject to Regulation 376/2014 (Article 2(7)). It means a double reporting could be required in a situation where a person is subject to mandatory reporting obligations in accordance with both regulations
7. What if two potential reporters witness the same event? Do we both have to report?
In some situations, several reporters might witness the same event. The key rule is that if the reporters do not belong to the same category of reporters (e.g. pilots vs. ground handling), or are employed by different companies (e.g. different airlines), they should all report.
8. What is the deadline for reporting?
An event must be reported within 72 hours after witnessing it or being involved in it. This is the general rule for mandatory reporting events unless “exceptional circumstances prevent this”.
9. Is there a new form & format for reporting?
Apart from some mandatory fields, the regulation does not impose a specific format for individual reports. Please use your company’s reporting form.
10. Is my report confidential? Is it anonymous?
Your report is not necessarily anonymous, but it will be kept confidential. The regulation requires the companies to take all necessary measures to ensure the appropriate confidentiality of the details of the event. A clear separation between the department handling the occurrence reports and the rest of the organisation must be established. Furthermore Member States and EASA are not allowed to store any names or personal details in their national database. Organisations are even encouraged not to include names and personal details when transferring occurrences reports to the competent authority.
11. Can my report be used against me?
One of the key characteristics of this regulation is that it prides itself for providing stricter protection for reporters and a ‘Just Culture’ environment, which encourages reporting. It includes a number of provisions for preventing any use against the reporter and all people mentioned in the report. It does not, however, provide immunity tp persons in case of gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts.
Although this regulation is an EU law applicable by all EU Member States, it cannot overrule national criminal law. So even with the protections in place, prosecution might be possible. Therefore, Member States must ensure that their NAA and their competent authorities for the administration of justice cooperate with each other through advance administrative arrangements. These advance administrative arrangements shall seek to ensure the correct balance between the need for proper administration of justice, on the one hand, and the necessary continuous availability of safety information, on the other.
12. How does the Regulation define ‘gross negligence’?
The line between “Just culture” and gross negligence will ultimately be decided by each member states judicial system and not by your organisation.
However reporters will not benefit from any protection ‘in cases of wilful misconduct or where there has been a manifest, severe and serious disregard of an obvious risk and profound failure of professional responsibility to take such care as is evidently required in the circumstances, causing foreseeable damage to a person or property, or which seriously compromises the level of aviation safety.’
13. Under what conditions can information on occurrences be used or made available?
Information derived from occurrence reports can only be used for the purpose for which it has been collected (i.e. safety). It cannot be shared or used in order to attribute blame or liability or for any purpose other than the maintenance or improvement of aviation safety. It is understood from this principle that organisations and competent authorities can only use the information with the view to maintain or improve aviation safety.
14. What can I do if I am subject to prejudice from my employer on the basis of a report?
Every Member State shall put in place an entity to receive and analyse those cases where organisations or authorities may infringe the protection principles and obligations provided by the Regulation. The Regulation allows individuals to report to that body any alleged infringement.
The Regulation also ensures that employees and contracted personnel are not penalised for reporting alleged infringements.
15. How should I (not) write a report?
Although there are no content or style requirements foreseen in the regulation, reports should be accurate, specific, factual, objective, clear, complete, and concise.
16. What is the role of my pilot association?
The regulation clearly stipulates that staff representatives (e.g. your pilot association) shall be consulted before adopting internal rules describing how ‘just culture’ principles are guaranteed and implemented within the organisation. The first step should be to investigate internally about the intention and concrete plan of the management as regards the development of these Just Ciulture internal rules to ensure the timely and proper involvement of crew representatives. Moreover your pilot association will be able to support and assist you in case of non-adherence to these principles.
17. Does my airline have to send my report to the competent Authorities?
Organisations are required to report as soon as possible to the competent authority all mandatory reportable occurrences (MOR), i.e. within 72 hours from the moment when the occurrence is received. Of those occurrences collected under the Voluntary Occurrence Reporting (VOR) system (i.e. those not in the MOR list or those reported by a person not listed in the regulation) only those that may involve an actual or potential aviation safety risk need to be reported to the competent authority.
18. Can I report directly to my National Aviation Authority?
Yes. Although it is recommended to report to your organisation, the regulation allows you to report directly to your National Aviation Authority or to the European Aviation safety Agency. In order to facilitate this information flow, the Commission intends to develop a single European portal which will redirect users to the reporting portal of the relevant competent authority. This portal is expected to support the use of off-line and on-line reporting forms.
Note: If you decide to report directly to your National Aviation Authority you cannot file the same report (on the same occurrence) in your organisation. It is either one or the other.
19. What are ECCAIRS and ECR?
ECCAIRS (European Co-ordination Centre for Aviation Incident Reporting Systems) is a set of software applications, which form together a platform for EU-wide collection of incident and accident reports. It has the objective to contribute to aviation safety through early detection of potentially hazardous situations by collecting de-identified reports from EU Member States in a standard and ICAO-compatible format. The actual database is called the European Central Repository (ECR).
20. Can I have access to the European Central Repository (ECR)?
Yes. Both individual pilots and professional representative bodies may be provided access to certain information contained in the European Central Repository based on a case-by-case decision. The information requested shall be limited to what is strictly required for the purpose of the request. Information unrelated to the interested party's own equipment, operations or field of activity shall be supplied only in aggregated or anonymised form.
21. What is ADREP or RIT?
Based on Annex 13, ICAO maintains a worldwide Accident/Incident Data Reporting (ADREP) system, which receives, stores, and provides States with occurrence information that will assist them in validating their safety strategy. In order to ensure compatibility, ECCAIRS uses the ADREP taxonomy. Because the ADREP classification is very extensive, the European Commission decided to provide organisations a Reduced Interface Taxonomy (RIT), which is a subset of all available attributes.
22. What are the competent authority obligations in terms of oversight?
The regulation requires the competent authority to appropriately monitor actions of the organisations they are responsible for. To perform this responsibility, the competent authority needs to establish a process to assess the information reported. This process should allow REQUIRING additional appropriate action(S) to be taken and implemented by the organisation in situation(S) where it has considered the action to be inappropriate to address actual or potential safety deficiencies.
It should also allow a process to review and validate the risk classification of the occurrence.
Note: It is understood that monitoring obligation does not require the competent authority to perform detailed investigation of each single occurrence it is notified of.
23. What is the European Risk Classification scheme?
In order to make occurrence reports comparable, a common European Risk Classification scheme will be set up. This scheme, which is still under development and will be published by May 2017, is only applicable for competent authorities (Member States and EASA). Organisations can use their own risk classification.