Thus, beyond accident investigation, the crucial element in prevention of aviation accidents is reporting and careful analysis of even the smallest incidents, failures and other occurrences in daily operations which may indicate the existence of potentially serious safety hazards which if not corrected may lead to accidents (accident precursors).
Occurrence reporting takes a system wide and data-driven approach to accident prevention and recognises that moving beyond blame is essential in enhancing safety in a proactive way – notions which have been confirmed through decades of safety and human factors research.
These important principles were recognised by the Community through Directive 2003/42/EC , which calls aviation professionals to report, in a protected environment, abnormal events or other irregular circumstances which, if not corrected, may lead to an accident. Directive 2003/42/EC ensures that all such reported information can be collected, stored, exchanged and disseminated, so that safety lessons can be learned. The Directive obliges Member States to ensure confidentiality of the information, in particular in relation to the identity of the reporter. The Directive also supports and encourages the establishment of voluntary occurrence reporting systems.
Directive 2003/42/EC was supplemented with implementing rules establishing a Central European Repository of information on civil aviation occurrences (Regulation 1321/ 2007) and dissemination of the information stored in the occurrence databases (Regulation 1330/2007 ). In 2012, over 570.000 occurrences were stored in the European Central Repository.
The European Central Repository and exchange of information between the national databases of the EU Member States is supported by the European Commission through the ECCAIRS system (European Co-ordination Centre for Accident and Incident Reporting Systems), managed by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission .
The European Commission is currently considering revising the legislation on occurence reporting. A public consultation took place in 2011; the results of this consultation have been summarised and are available to the public. The Commission also organised a Seminar on the issue of information and reporter protection.