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VOLUME 1  GENERAL INSPECTOR GUIDANCE AND INFORMATION

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CHAPTER 1  ORDER ORGANIZATION, USE, AND REVISION

Section 4  FAA Computer Database

1-61    PURPOSE. This section contains guidance for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspectors (ASI) concerning the use of computer databases. Most aviation information ASIs use is computer‑generated and stored in databases. By accessing these databases, inspectors can stay up to date in the rapidly changing aviation environment.

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1-62    APPLICATION TYPES. Applications that inspectors use day-to-day are web-based applications accessed using a web browser (e.g., the Safety Assurance System (SAS) and Safety Performance Analysis System (SPAS)).

1-63    ACCESSING APPLICATIONS. Inspectors can access applications by:

A.    Local Access. Directly connecting to the office local area network (LAN).

B.    Remote Access. Remotely connecting with:

    Government-issued computers by using a remote access virtual private network (VPN). This method creates a secure, encrypted network connection, which allows access to all resources (including FAA intranet).

    Non-Government (personal) computers using a web browser to access limited FAA internet sites.

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C.    Database-Related Support Issues. For database-related support issues, inspectors should contact the Aviation Safety (AVS) National Information Technology (IT) Service Desk at 1-844-322-6948.

Table 1-2.  Site Addresses

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NOTE:  This table lists the sites that most inspectors use. Many additional sites are available for research or information gathering. These program site addresses are subject to change.

PROGRAM

SITE ADDRESS

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Home Page

http://www.faa.gov

Aviation Safety (AVS) Home Page

http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs

Flight Standards Service Home Page

http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/afx

Safety Assurance System (SAS)

http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/atos/

Web-based Operations Safety System (WebOPSS)

https://webopss.faa.gov

Safety Performance Analysis System (SPAS)

http://home.spas.faa.gov

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Home Page

https://www.easa.europa.eu

Enhanced Flight Standards Automation System (eFSAS)

https://efsas.avs.faa.gov

Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS)

http://fsims.faa.gov

1-64    SPAS. SPAS is a web-based application that inspectors can use to evaluate current decision support tools designed primarily to assist ASIs and supervisors with surveillance planning, safety assessments, certification, and investigation activities. Using SPAS, inspectors can:

    Identify certificate holders and specific areas that may present a greater risk, thus warranting further surveillance or other action;

    Analyze safety-critical performance measures and profiles;

    Plan surveillance and establish and update surveillance work programs based on analysis; and

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    Use SPAS data for planning a SAS Comprehensive Assessment Plan (CAP), as applicable.

A.    The SPAS User Guide. A guide to SPAS is located on the SPAS home page. The guide provides an overview of the SPAS application, including its capabilities, purpose, basic features, and functions.

B.    Inspector Requirements. Inspectors are responsible for monitoring SPAS data relevant to their certificate responsibilities.

C.    SPAS Online Databases. The SPAS home page and SPAS menu bar allow the inspector to access data from a variety of external FAA/government sites. Table 1-3, SPAS Online Databases, is an example of what is currently available, giving its abbreviation, its name, and a brief description of what the database contains.

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Table 1-3.  SPAS Online Databases

DATA SOURCE

DATABASE

DESCRIPTION

FAA

AIDS

Accident Incident Data System

AD, AD Preamble, AD NPRM

Airworthiness Directive (AD), AD Preamble, and AD Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Aircraft (MSAT-B)

Multi-System Access Tool for Aircraft

Aircraft-Engine Combinations

Aircraft-Engine Combinations

Airman (MSAT-A)

Airman (Multi-System Access Tool for Air Personnel)

ASAP

Aviation Safety/Accident Prevention System

ATQA

Air Traffic Quality Assurance

ATS (AMT Schools)

Airman Testing Standards (Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools)

ATS Norms Reports

ATS Norms Online Reports

Bulletins and Alerts

Flight Standards Bulletin and Alert Information

CAIS

Comprehensive Airmen Information Subsystem

EIS

Enforcement Information System

MMELS

Master Minimum Equipment List Subsystem

New Entrant

New Entrant Air Carrier

NVIS—Air Operator

National Vital Information Subsystem—Air Operator

FAA

NVIS—Air Agency

National Vital Information Subsystem—Air Agency

NVIS—Check Airman

National Vital Information Subsystem—Check Airman

NVIS—Designee

National Vital Information Subsystem—Designee

NVIS—Environmental

National Vital Information Subsystem—Environmental

NVIS—Historical Fleet

National Vital Information Subsystem—Historical Fleet

NVIS—Historical Personnel

National Vital Information Subsystem— Historical Personnel

OPT

Oversight Prioritization Tool

PTRS

Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem

SAS

Safety Assurance System

SDRS

Service Difficulty Reporting System

SIESS

Simulator Inventory and Evaluation Scheduling System

Utilization

Air Carrier Aircraft Utilization and Propulsion Reliability System

VDRP

Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program

WebOPSS

Web-based Operations Safety System

DOD

COCKPIT

Department of Defense Cockpit Observations

Q&S

DOD Quality and Safety

RAMPS

DOD Ramp Inspections

NTSB

NTSB

National Transportation Safety Board

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D.    SPAS Support. ASIs should contact the AVS National IT Service Desk at 1-844-322-6948 to request assistance in the use of SPAS.

E.    Error and Problem Reporting.

1)    Reporting. ASIs should report any errors, including instances of missing, inaccurate, or incomplete data, as well as broken or improperly functioning SPAS capabilities to the AVS National IT Service Desk through any one of the following methods:
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    Send an email to the AVS National IT Service Desk at helpdesk@faa.gov;

    Place a phone call to the AVS National IT Service Desk at 1-844-322-6948; or

    Make an entry of an online Error Problem Report via the SPAS feedback function at the bottom of every page in the SPAS application.

2)    SPAS Online Databases. The SPAS system operation maintenance and IT support team updates and maintains the interfaces that supply SPAS with data from the information sources listed in Table 1-3. The team operates under the direction of the Information Technology Division (AQS-200).

1-65    SPAS BACKGROUND. In fiscal year (FY) 1991, the Flight Standards Service identified a mission‑critical need to provide inspectors with an improved capability of using information for aviation safety assessments. The Flight Standards Service recognized that timely access to quality data for use in decisionmaking and risk assessment was essential for inspectors, supervisors, managers, and safety analysts.

A.    ASI Role. ASIs play a major role in the development of the SPAS program. Inspectors serve on a series of expert panels that define the goals and objectives for each element of SPAS. Inspectors establish SPAS requirements in consultation with analysts and statisticians.

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B.    Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS). PASS representatives have actively participated in the development and evaluation of SPAS since early 1994.

1-66    SPAS DISCUSSION.

A.    Identify, Analyze, and Plan. SPAS is a decision support tool designed primarily to assist ASIs and supervisors with surveillance, certification, and investigation activities. Using SPAS, inspectors can:

    Identify certificate holders and specific areas that may present a greater safety risk, thus warranting further surveillance or other action;

    Analyze safety-critical performance measures and profiles and retrieve underlying data; and

    Plan surveillance and establish and update surveillance work programs based on analysis.

B.    Validity. To enhance the validity of analysis-based safety decisions, it is essential that inspectors enter data accurately into the Enhanced Flight Standards Automation System (eFSAS), Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS), the enhanced Vital Information Database (eVID), and other Flight Standards databases in accordance with current procedure manuals. Flight Standards Service and AVS personnel place considerable reliance on the data and information contained in these databases by SPAS for the creation of performance measures and profiles. Inaccurate data entry can ultimately lead to inaccurate SPAS information and less-than-full performance of SPAS capabilities.

C.    Sharing SPAS. Only share data retrieved from SPAS with other Flight Standards Service or AVS personnel with appropriate clearances on a need-to-know basis. The only exception is described in subparagraph 1-66C3).

1)    This limitation does not apply to sharing the basic airman certification, medical certification, or aircraft registry information contained in the Multi-System Access Tool for Air Personnel (MSAT-A) and Multi-System Access Tool for Aircraft (MSAT-B) databases with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as part of an accident or incident investigation. Flight Standards Service and AVS personnel may release the MSAT-A “Airman Information Reported” and “Certificate Details” pages and the MSAT-B “Registry Detail” page to an NTSB air safety investigator upon request. The Flight Standards Service works with the Office of the Chief Counsel (AGC) on an ongoing basis to examine ways in which the FAA and Congress can protect SPAS and other selected safety information that inspectors use for decisionmaking. In the meantime, all FAA, Flight Standards Service, and AVS organizations should adhere to these instructions.
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NOTE:  The “Airman Information Reported” and “Certificate Details” may contain old information, and the Airman Certification Branch (AFB-720) cannot confirm that the data in SPAS is always current. AFB-720 is the authoritative source, or custodian of record, and needs to be contacted directly for the official and most recent certificate information. Any discrepancies in SPAS regarding basic information, airman information, or certificate details needs to be directed to AFB-720 as the authoritative source.

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2)    The U.S./European Union (EU) aviation safety agreement (the Agreement), signed on June 30, 2008, is between the United States and the EU to cooperate in the regulation of civil aviation safety. The Agreement allows the FAA and EASA to rely on each otherís surveillance systems, minimize the duplication of efforts, increase efficiency, and conserve resources to the greatest extent possible. (See Volume 6, Chapter 9, Section 24 for more information regarding the Agreement.)
3)    Article 9 of the Agreement stipulates that the FAA and EASA will provide each other, on request and in a timely manner, any information regarding accidents/incidents involving civilian aeronautical products or regulated entities, and will exchange other safety information. Per the Agreement, the FAA agrees to share with EASA SPAS data that is restricted to:

    The repair station’s profile.

    Information documented in the PTRS related to repair station findings on EASA Form 9, EASA US Part-145 Approvals.

NOTE:  ASIs use EASA Form 9 during certification, amendment, or renewal of a repair station located in the United States that is seeking or has received EASA approval.

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NOTE:  The process for sharing data for the purposes of surveillance and inspections with EASA is described in Volume 2, Chapter 11, Section 11.

1-67    SPAS ACTION.

A.    Rules for Usage. All SPAS-trained inspectors, supervisors, managers, and safety analysts must use SPAS and other relevant data sources for safety assessment, surveillance planning, decisionmaking, certification, and investigation activities, as appropriate.

B.    Monitoring. Inspectors are responsible for monitoring SPAS data relevant to their certificate responsibilities. Inspectors must use SPAS to monitor the surveillance work program, as described below. The SPAS Work Program Management Process document is a recommended source of information regarding the creation and modification of work programs.

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1)    Inspectors are responsible for using SPAS as intended, maintaining data quality, and entering acknowledgments accurately without delay.
2)    Managers and supervisors are responsible for being knowledgeable about the content of this order and the SPAS Work Program Management Process document.

NOTE:  See paragraph 1-68 for specific acknowledgment input and management requirements.

1-68    SPAS INPUT REQUIREMENTS (ACKNOWLEDGMENT).

A.    Flags in Concern Status. Principal inspectors (PI) assigned to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 121 and 135 certificate holders (as defined below) must use the SPAS acknowledgment process. Acknowledgment means that the responsible individual, typically a PI, has seen the SPAS flag in the concern status and acknowledges this fact. Only flags in the concern status that are accompanied by an exclamation mark must be acknowledged.

B.    Acknowledgments and Associated Comments. The requirement to enter acknowledgments applies to PIs assigned to parts 121 and 135 certificate holders with 25 or more aircraft. PIs of certificate holders not meeting these criteria can enter acknowledgments if they wish, but they are not required to do so. Acknowledgments and associated comments provide information to geographic inspectors and others who conduct surveillance on these certificate holders.

C.    Evaluating the Data. Before entering acknowledgments, the PIs identified in subparagraph 1-68B are responsible for reviewing the SPAS flags in the concern status and evaluating the data that caused the flags to enter the concern status. Acknowledgment(s) must be entered within 30 calendar-days of the date the flag entered the concern status if the concern flag is accompanied by an exclamation mark.

D.    Designate a Proxy. PIs who will be unable to monitor SPAS data due to a temporary assignment, leave, training, and other types of absences must designate a proxy. A proxy may substitute for the PI in evaluating the status of flags and entering acknowledgments. PIs should review the acknowledgments entered by their proxies as soon as possible.

1-69    SPAS ACKNOWLEDGMENT STEPS.

A.    Evaluate the Flag. If the flag is in the concern status, the PI needs to determine what led to the flag’s being in this status and what information is necessary to understand the concern status. A determination should be made regarding any action that may be needed to address the issues raised by the concern status flag. In some cases, the PI may be aware of circumstances that led to the concern status, whereas, in other cases, a review of underlying data, other performance measures, or additional information may be required.

1)    Briefly record what is needed. Remarks are a required part of the acknowledgment record. The remarks should explain the course of action that will be taken or has been taken to address the issues raised by the concern flag.
2)    Corrective action planned, or other appropriate responses to the concern, should be described in a brief written statement. It is suggested that the acknowledgment statement be written to answer questions about who, what, when, where, how, and/or why. In those instances in which no corrective action is planned, the acknowledgment needs to contain a statement regarding why corrective action is not necessary.

B.    Ensure Accuracy and Consistency. The review of SPAS data and posting of the acknowledgment entry are the responsibilities of PIs. Supervisors must ensure that inspectors are aware of their individual responsibility for the use of SPAS and the recording of acknowledgments. Supervisors must also periodically review acknowledgment narratives to ensure accuracy and consistency with SPAS guidelines.

C.    Flight Standards Service Management. Flight Standards Service management has an oversight role for Flight Standards data inspectors input for all Flight Standards business processes, such as surveillance, certification, and investigation. That role is described in the PTRS Procedures Manual, chapter 2, section 2. Managers are strongly encouraged to provide adequate resources and reinforcement to promote accurate, high‑quality data entry at all levels of the Flight Standards data system. They should also encourage the use of SPAS as a dynamic decision support tool.

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1-70    REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA). Any person may request public information—that is, information not deemed as “privacy information” or otherwise classified—under FOIA. If requested information is releasable under FOIA, database custodians will release this information from FAA-computerized databases. A Flight Standards facility must forward any requests for database information that it receives to the appropriate database custodian. The Flight Standards facility must also provide a written response to the requesting party indicating that it has forwarded the request for information to the database custodian. Database custodians must respond to the public within 20 business‑days of receipt of the request. Further information on FOIA is available in FAA Order 1270.1, Freedom of Information Act Program (FOIA), and on the FAA’s FOIA web page at http://www.faa.gov/foia.

RESERVED. Paragraphs 1-71 through 1-85.