Following is some general information about ASRS data.
Reports sent to the ASRS are held in strict confidence. More than 975,000 reports have been submitted and no reporter’s identity has ever been breached by the ASRS. ASRS de-identifies reports before entering them into the incident database. All personal and organizational names are removed. Dates, times, and related information, which could be used to infer an identity, are either generalized or eliminated.
De-identification of reporting form fixed and text fields is conducted as a normal part of report coding by aviation expert analysts. A standard set of rules for de-identification is employed, however, when the nature of an incident or operation is such that standard de-identification may not be sufficient to ensure reporter anonymity, a special set of rules are employed.
Note: ASRS uses “ZZZ,” if required, to de-identify fields normally expected to contain a discrete value (such as location). If the information is unknown (as opposed to de-identified) the field will be left blank.
When ASRS receives multiple reports from separate participants that describe a single incident, they are combined into a single record. In a hypothetical example, say an airborne conflict for 2 air carrier aircraft simultaneously departing parallel runways where one aircraft turns the wrong way, ASRS could receive reports from both pilots of aircraft X, both pilots of aircraft Y, 1 or more involved controllers, and perhaps even others (cabin crew, pilots of other aircraft who observe the event, etc.). Thus, in this example, we could have 5 or more reports that describe a single incident, and all reports will be combined into a single database record. These additional reports and their included information are coded as "supplemental" or secondary to the primary report; the "primary" report is often the report from the individual who is most directly involved in the event, or perhaps the report with the most illustrative narrative -- our pilot and controller expert analysts assess this on a case-by-case basis. When we combine reports, we will edit out repetitive or extraneous narrative from supplemental report(s). Other information contained in secondary (supplemental) reports may be used to complete the primary record (e.g., the primary reporter did not provide weather information, but the secondary reporter did). Other information, when provided, including reporter experience, etc., is added.
This is one of the great strengths of ASRS data – the ability to combine information from multiple reporters, each with unique perspectives, experience, background and knowledge, to create a comprehensive view of an event.
ASRS reports referencing safety incidents are considered soft data. The reports are submitted voluntarily and are subject to self-reporting biases. Such incidents, in many cases, have not been corroborated by the FAA or NTSB. The existence in the ASRS database of records concerning a specific topic cannot, therefore, be used to infer the prevalence of that problem within the National Airspace System.
Reports submitted to ASRS may be amplified by contact with the individual who submitted them, but the information provided by the reporter is not investigated further. At best, it represents the perception of a specific individual involved in or witnessing a given issue or event.
The ASRS Database Online includes report records from 1988 until current. The ASRS Database Online uses an Oracle relational database and is updated monthly.