The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), launched in 1976 by NASA and the FAA, was developed to identify deficiencies and discrepancies in the National Airspace System as well as provide planning data for future system improvements. To date, the ASRS process has produced nearly one million safety reports.
Anyone from the air transport industry, including pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics, cabin crew or dispatchers, is welcome to file a report on a system hazard they observe. All reports are voluntary, all are kept confidential and for the most part all are non-punitive.
In most cases, filing the report acts like a “get-out-of-jail-free” card and no civil penalty or suspension will be imposed. The only exception occurs if the violator was willfully negligent, or if he was found guilty of an offense in the preceding five years.
The person who files an ASRS report is given a receipt with the name removed for confidentiality. That receipt also allows the individual to prove he filed an ASRS report should he be asked by the FAA to explain his actions.
ASRS provides, among other monthly items, a free newsletter–Callback–that highlights many of the incidents reported.