Voluntary Reporting System | Enhancing Aviation Safety

Voluntary Reporting System | Enhancing Aviation Safety

Voluntary Report

Hazards exist at all operational levels in the airline and are detectable through many sources including reporting systems, FDM, inspections, audits, brainstorming sessions, and expert judgment. By Safety Management System, the airline has to establish a voluntary reporting system. 

The Voluntary Reporting System is based on voluntary informing of employees of any hazards identified, situations, or events that pose a real or potential threat to the safety or reputation of the airlines.

Many airline workers are aware of the potential hazards in their work environment, by voluntarily reporting these hazards they will not vulnerable to injury. That is why during my Safety management system training classes, I explain to my trainees the importance of the safety reports in enhancing aviation safety and  by airline safety too. 

The fact is that 100 % of problems – including safety hazards and threats - are known to low-rank personnel who work in the front line, while 74% are known to supervisors, 9% known to middle management, and 4% known to top management.

In my opinion, a successful Safety management system manager value the importance of safety information, especially when it is sent to him before the hard outcomes occurred. 

By using safety management software, the airline workers can send confidential, speedy, easy voluntary reports to migrate 100% of safety information to the top management.

Safety management system is about safety decisions making to control the safety risks to an acceptable level. For this reason, Safety management system software is highly recommended to support top management in achieving Safety management system goals. That is why many airlines use “like Flightdatapeople SMS360.


Is a Voluntary Reporting System a regulatory requirement?

Yes, it is required by ICAO Annex 19 (Safety Management).

Annex 19 (7/11/19) -Chapter 5

"5.1.3 States shall establish a voluntary safety reporting system to collection safety data and safety information not captured by the mandatry safety reporting system".

Such reports may involve occurrences, hazards, or threats relevant to the safety of airlines, airports, and Maintenance Repair Organizations, etc.

For this reason, Civil Aviation Authorities required all airlines, airports, and maintenance repair organizations – and other aviation entities- to promote Voluntary Reporting System within their respective organizations and ensure that the employees are aware of the Voluntary Reporting System.


Why should I make a Voluntary Report?

If you work daily in the operational areas of the airlines, you are in the best position to be aware of hazards. Specifically, if you are one of the following:

  1. Flight crew members
  2. Air Traffic Controllers
  3. Licensed engineers.
  4. Cabin crew members
  5. Ramp agent
  6. Flight dispatchers.

By reporting hazards, you will save lives or keep yourself and other people safe from any injuries. Furthermore, you will be avoiding losing materials/systems or danger for the environment.

The following Voluntary Reporting System features will assure you by being safe, and comfortable using the Voluntary Reporting System:

1. The Voluntary Reporting System is a confidential system that protects the identity of the reporter.

2. The Voluntary Reporting System is a non-punitive system that does not use the reported information to punish employees, but is instead focused upon developing process improvements to eliminate the identified hazards or control the risks associated with the report.


The voluntary report can be made by anyone who observes or becomes aware of a reportable safety concern. You can contribute to aviation safety enhancement through the Voluntary Reporting System by reporting on occurrences, hazards, or threats relevant to your aviation activities.


What should I report?

You can report any information regarding any hazard, incident, or occurrence that may have or has the potential of impacting aviation safety can be reported. But you should not make a voluntary report for any safety information covered by the mandatory reporting system.

For example, you can report safety incidents or events involving ( but not limited to):

  1.   Errors
  2. Individual performance
  3. Health & Safety matters affecting Operating Procedures
  4. Regulatory aspects
  5. Unsafe practices.

What are the possible outcomes from a voluntary report submission?

Your voluntary report will lead to taking actions to improve aviation safety in response to the identified concern. Furthermore, this can include variations to standards, orders, practices, procedures, or updating training materials.


When should I make a voluntary report?

There is no time limitation to submit a report. However, in the interest of aviation safety, time-critical information should be reported at the earliest opportunity. If your airlines use safety management system software “like Flightdatapeople SMS360, it will help you speedily, confidentially submit your report.


Can the voluntary report be anonymous?

The voluntary Reporting System is designed to accept anonymous reports. But some airlines may not accept anonymous reports because safety staff cannot contact an anonymous reporter to verify the submission. Or to seek additional information. 

No one knows the safety culture of your airlines more than you do. What I can say, is be sure that your voluntary report will save lives.


The key objective of the voluntary - and also, the confidential - reporting system is to enhance the safety of aviation activities through the collection of reports on actual or potential safety deficiencies that would otherwise not be reported through other channels.


To allow management to make defensible and correct safety-based decisions. It needs to be presented with appropriate safety data and safety information to determine the risk landscape to which it may be exposed.

In the voluntary reporting system, the reporter, without any legal or administrative requirement to do so, submits a voluntary incident report. The reported information is not used against the reporters.


Airlines must establish a robust reporting culture in which employees are fully engaged in the management of safety.


I would appreciate any effort to update or sharing this article.

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority. We hope you find Aviation Professional website not only informative, but interesting and helpful as well. Leave your comment , thank you.

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