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NASA’s Aviation Reporting System Improves Railroad Safety

November 4, 2010

From planes to trains, when you find something that works stick with it.

That is why the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is serving as a model to create a similar safety reporting system for the Federal Railroad Association (FRA).

The ASRS collects, analyzes and responds to voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident reports in order to lessen the likelihood of aviation accidents. This system helped create the FRA’s new Confidential Close Call Reporting Systems, which allows employees to voluntarily and anonymously report “close call” incidents that could have resulted in an accident or injury.

During its 34-year history, the ASRS has been highly successful. Each year, the ASRS receives approximately 56,000 aviation safety reports from frontline aviation personnel, including pilots, air traffic controllers, dispatchers, mechanics, and flight attendants.

“The replication of the ASRS system in the railroad industry to provide assistance in realizing safety improvements is a welcome recognition of the success of ASRS and its numerous improvements to aviation safety,” said NASA ASRS Director Linda Connell, who has been actively involved in the early developments of the reporting software.

Amtrak recently joined the reporting program, along with the Canadian Pacific Railway, Union Pacific Railroad and the New Jersey Transit system.

“The ASRS was chosen to be the model for the new pilot because it has been a proven successful model,” said Bob Kulat, Department of Transportation spokesperson. “The low hanging fruit has been picked. Now, we’re addressing human factors to get accidents down to zero.”

Karen Jenvey, NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Image Caption: Amtrak recently joined the new reporting system based on NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System. Photo Credit: Amtrak

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