FAA to require airlines use data to prevent accidents

Published Jan. 8, 2015

WASHINGTON — New federal rules announced Wednesday will require airlines to collect and analyze safety data in an effort to spot troubling trends and help prevent accidents.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the causes of 123 accidents between 2001 and 2010 could have been identified beforehand if airlines had safety management systems in place.

Passenger and cargo airlines must have such systems by 2018. The rules detail the kind of data to be collected and analyzed, but give airlines flexibility about gathering the information. Airlines will be required to develop programs to analyze the data.

"Aviation is incredibly safe, but continued growth means that we must be proactive and smart about how we use safety data to detect and mitigate risk," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

After the 2009 crash of a regional airliner near Buffalo, N.Y., Congress passed an aviation safety law that included a deadline of July 2012 for the FAA to issue rules requiring airlines to have safety management systems. The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates air crashes, has also urged the FAA to require such systems.

Susan Bourque, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert — a noted 9/11 widow and activist — in the 2009 crash, praised the FAA for including regional air carriers in the rule.

"It is so important that every passenger flying on a regional airline … receives the benefit of a commitment to and investment in best-practice, data-driven safety programs that is commensurate with that of the major carriers like Southwest and Delta — a commitment and investment that my sister Beverly and everyone else lost on Flight 3407 sadly and tragically did not receive," Bourque said in a statement.