September 29, 2020
The Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) was developed to improve safety through a voluntary reporting program that is non-punitive in nature. The ASAP is a partnership composed of the company (Southwest Airlines or “SWA”), regulator (Federal Aviation Administration or “FAA”), and labor union (Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association or “AMFA”). Each partner has a representative seat on the Event Review Committee (ERC), whose primary function is to come to a consensus of acceptance or rejection into the Program of reports that are submitted by employees. These ASAP reports provide invaluable safety information and data.
AMFA and SWA entered into the ASAP in September 2001 under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) , which prescribes how the Program is administered and is based on an FAA template. Additionally, the FAA’s Advisory Circular (AC) 120–66 provides all of the guidelines for an ASAP. The latest revision of the AC, issued March 31, 2020, (REV C), required AMFA and SWA to achieve a revised MOU.
For the past year AMFA was seeking a written commitment that no disciplinary action would be taken against an employee who was accepted into the Program from SWA. There was no discipline language in the very first MOU, but the MOU language format was changed to a “boilerplate” by the FAA. As a result of uniform MOU language AMFA noticed that letters of discipline were being given to employees who had been accepted in ASAP. This resulted in a decline in reports, thus potentially putting safety great risk. Reporting levels did increase after communications between the Company and AMFA.
On June 15, 2020, a letter of ASAP Clarification Policy was issued by Kurt Kinder, Southwest Airlines Vice-President Maintenance Operations, to include a commitment of no discipline when the report is accepted by the ASAP ERC. A similar policy has been in place at Alaska Airlines for several years, and has proven to be very successful.
The commitment to ensuring safety is demonstrated by the letter, thereby strengthening the bond of the partnership of the ASAP. A robust and successful ASAP is crucial to ensure safety for the flying public. AMFA’s motto is “safety in the air begins with quality maintenance on the ground.”