HAI urges participation in event reporting system

 - December 19, 2006, 4:22 AM

In an effort to encourage users to take advantage of its online Event Reporting safety-management system, the Helicopter Association International (HAI) recently eliminated the $300 subscription fee and made the system free to anyone who wants to use it.

Lee Powell, special projects manager for HAI’s information technology department, said that only a handful of users have signed up to use the Event Reporting system, an extension of HAI’s Maintenance Malfunction Information Report (MMIR) product.

Powell said, “We have to convince the operators that this might actually be a good thing.”

HAI developed Event Reporting, available at www.mmir.com, in response to industry and government requests for an online tool that would offer primarily smaller helicopter operators a simple and secure method of documenting issues that affect their companies. HAI recognized that many of the larger Part 135 operators already had their own internal safety management system (SMS) programs but that many of the smaller operators had no formal way to collect and use such data. Using Event Reporting can help operators follow the FAA’s guidance to implement an SMS or to develop an internal quality-assurance program.

Unlike MMIR, which has been widely used to identify problems with airframe and engine parts, Event Reporting covers virtually anything that affects a helicopter operation. This includes aborted or delayed missions, unusual noises, lack of parts or tools, passenger comments, training documentation, procedural hang-ups or challenging working conditions.

Harold Summers, director of flight operations and technical services for HAI, said the system is a great way for operators to capture information about potentially dangerous situations or practices before they get out of control. “Let’s say somebody leaves a work stand out on the ramp, where it could get blown into another aircraft and damage it,” he said. “If you report it, the company can address it.”

Another difference between MMIR and Event Reporting is that event reports are visible only to authorized employees within the company that submitted the report, unless the company makes the report visible to all users. Companies can also allow employees to submit anonymous reports.

Powell guessed that one reason why operators have not embraced Event Reporting is because they feel it takes too much time to use. He emphasized that the system is easy to use and can be as simple, or as complex and customized, as an operator wants it to be.

“The regulatory agencies have actively recommended that all shops use a safety-management system,” Powell said, referring to the FAA’s Advisory Circular (AC 120-92), Introduction to Safety Management Systems for Air Operators, published on June 22. “Identify your problems before they become trouble. Get on board with this. It’s certainly a lot cheaper than fixing a problem after it’s already become a problem or run you out of business.”