Is it a Mandatory Occurrence Report?

States should have mandatory and voluntary reporting systems. ICAO provides guidance to States as to what occurrences should be filed as a mandatory report, but it is up to the State. Different States therefore have different lists of occurrences and some will have a catch-all statement. There are so many things that can comprise an occurrence. The mandatory and voluntary reporting systems for the Overseas Territories are the same.

It is often frustrating to hear the question 'what is a mandatory report?', as it is focusing on the wrong point. The objective of reporting is to improve air safety as stated within Article 174 of the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order. The important thing is that the report leads to things being learnt and applied to achieve continuous safety improvement. It is sharing an issue or a lesson learnt. For some, there appears to be the fear of 'getting into trouble' if a mandatory report is filed. So some people will carefully check the mandatory occurrences list in the hope that it is not reportable. But look, what if you do report?

Think of it this way - if it does not fall into a mandatory category then you will have filed a voluntary report. What happens with voluntary reports and how are these different? Answer: nothing really too different happens. The data is shared, used for analysis and may be reviewed at audit. By reporting you have contributed to the data which may be important to identify a wider issue. In the near future those contributing via ECCAIRS (European Coordination Centre for Accident and Incident Reporting System) will be able to explore the de-identified data themselves. This will certainly benefit small States and small Service Providers by providing a much larger data set to identify common issues, have a better awareness of hazards (severity and likelihoods) and lessons learnt. This is currently used by an expanding number of aviation safety organisations and regulators all over the world.

So nobody will be upset if a report is filed under the heading of a' mandatory report' if it doesn't strictly fit the definition; instead, it will be viewed as a voluntary report. From a legal perspective, it is worse the other way round, should an incident come to light that required a mandatory report and nothing was filed. Recently when reviewing a number of reports with an Accountable Manager and discussing the question is it a mandatory report or not he put it like this:

I do not like my broccoli soft and over cooked. When it is boiling away as soon as the thought crosses my mind it is done I should react and take it off the boil. However I don't, and it is then always over cooked. So now I'll treat a report like my broccoli on the boil.  If it crosses my mind 'is it a mandatory occurrence report?' it is best to file it.

If you think it is an issue and it would be worth someone else knowing about it, but it does not fit the mandatory list or you're not sure - please file it. Do not be afraid of the Mandatory Occurrence Report.  What's the worst that can happen?  If it is not strictly a Mandatory Report it will be taken as a Voluntary Report instead.  What's the best thing that can happen? You could be making a big difference to safety - now that can only be a good thing! 

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