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Data Collection


The process and methods for documenting, gathering, and compiling operational and safety data



Data collection identifies the processes and methods utilized by an organization to document, compile, and gather operational and safety data. In high-risk domains, such as aviation, it is important for an organization to have the infrastructure and resources to collect complex sets of data from multiple internal and external sources. organizations should strive to collect data that is of the highest quality and integrity to inform analyses that yield actionable results. This section identifies opportunities for domains to:

  • Evolve organizational processes to support the on-going collection of robust operational and safety data,
  • Better understand how collected data can be applied to achieve domain and organizational performance objectives, and
  • Improve data collection consistency to support high quality analyses and products.


To ensure a common use and understanding of key terms, below are a set of definitions that pertain to Data Collection:

Key Terms
Data - Safety Data is any safety-related facts, reports, collected materials providing knowledge about a safety subject.
Information - Safety Information is a result of the Safety Data being processed, organized, presented to make it useful to the organization.
Hazard - Hazard is any biological, chemical, mechanical, or physical agent that is reasonably likely to cause harm or damage to humans or equipment with sufficient exposure or dose.
Risk - Risk is defined as the probability that exposure to a hazard will lead to a negative consequence

Safety Data & Information Sources

A variety of internal and external data sources may be referenced by an Organization to collect operational and safety data. For the purposes of GSIP, these data sources have been grouped into three areas of application: Public Safety Information, Safety Program Information, and Reportable Occurrence. While each of these areas provides information that is unique and valuable, an Organization must consider when each data source is appropriate. This is typically driven by the question, or need, that an Organization must address (e.g. identify the probable cause of an accident vs. identify global probable cause trends). During the data collection process, it is important that as data is collected, it is captured in a manner that is usable by others within an Organization. For example, digital flight data obtained through FOQA may need to be conditioned before a specialist conducts their analysis.

gsip data sources

Public Safety Information 

Related ICAO Terms – Accident / Incident Data Report (sharing) (Annex 13, Chapter 6)

Public Safety Information describes the collection and analysis of publically available information to improve a domain’s SDCPS capabilities. Additionally, domains may apply this information to identify lessons learned from historical occurrences to improve future operations. Public safety information is available from many sources such as ICAO, IATA, Boeing, Airbus, and Civil Aviation Authorities.

Public safety information can be utilized by an organization to support: 

  • Identifying lessons learned from another Organization or domain (e.g. risk mitigations)
  • Supporting the development of a benefits case for technology or procedure improvements (e.g. SESAR)
  • Remaining apprised of emerging analytical methods, techniques, and application opportunities 

Safety Assurance

Related ICAO Terms - Self-disclosure Reporting Systems (Annex 6, Part I, Chapter 3)

Safety Assurance describes the on-going monitoring and assessment of a domain’s operational safety performance to identify emerging safety needs before they escalate into a reportable occurrence. Safety assurance information from can be collected from both internal and external data sources.

Safety assurance information is well suited to support: 

  • Validation of operational performance targets (e.g. number of maintenance induced delays)
  • Operational integration issues (e.g. reoccurring hard landings at a specific airport via FOQA data)
  • Identification of emerging human-system performance needs (e.g. procedure issues identified via LOSA)

Employee Voluntary Reporting

Related ICAO Terms - Voluntary Incident Reporting System (Annex 13, Chapter 8)

Employee Voluntary Reporting includes the collection and analysis of safety data voluntarily submitted by employees through an internal reporting system. Employee reports can provide unique insights into the safety issues and events encountered in daily operations that would otherwise go unreported. Reports can be collected through internal company reporting systems or accessed from publicly available external reporting systems. 

The unique, first-hand perspective provided by employee voluntary reporting systems can help an organization: 

  • Identify close-calls and near miss events to prioritize near-term safety needs
  • Develop and share lessons learned and best practices for managing specific types of hazards and oacross an organization
  • Substantiate and explain other data sources (e.g. pairing of voluntary reports with FOQA data)
  • Target opportunities to improve organizational safety culture (e.g. gauge program participation)

Employee Voluntary Reporting Systems

Reportable Occurrences

Related ICAO Terms - Accident, Serious Incident, Mandatory Incident Reporting   Systems (Annex 13, Chapter 8)

Reportable Occurrences include information on an operational event or hazard that meets the criteria defined by the State requiring documentation and/or investigation. This information is obtained primarily through internal data sources by investigators, analysts, or by being a participating Organization / party to an investigative process. 

Reportable occurrence data is typically collected in response to:

  • Aircraft accident (e.g. controlled flight into terrain)
  • Serious Incident (e.g. runway incursion)
  • Significant Air proximity Event

Data Collection Levels

Many factors such as organizational capabilities and the significance of the safety event may impact the level of intensity an organization applies to data collection. The level of intensity matrix provided below has been developed to assist organizations in the identification the appropriate level of intensity for managing and improving their operational safety. Additionally, the levels of intensity allow an organization to identify opportunities to enhance data collection quality and integrity to support thorough and accurate analyses and products.

Data Collection Levels of Intensity
ICAO Compliant Advanced Measures Industry Leading Industry Driving
Data is collected to understand the most relevant events to an organization’s operations while practicing SMS principles on necessary risk mitigations. Data is collected to understand the most relevant events and all the primary causes underlying those events. Data is collected to understand the most relevant events and both primary causes and contributing causes. Data is collected to understand the world’s investigative results and the pathways from initial breakdowns through the undesired states and all linkages between primary causes and contributing factors.

Resources and Examples

A collection of resources related to aviation data collection and best practices are provided below. Click any example for more information.



Feedback Requested

The Flight Safety Foundation requests your feedback will help us achieve one of the core objectives of GSIP – improve the sharing and harmonization of information. All aviation safety stakeholders are invited to submit toolkit feedback via either the link below or by adding a comment to this page. All feedback will be reviewed by the GSIP team to improve the overall quality of the product.