SRP is a voluntary reporting program, which FAA sells as aiding system safety. Modeled after ASAP and ATSAP, the real purpose of this program is not to promote safety; it is to contain whistleblower concerns within FAA, to ensure the concerns never get outside of FAA. All of these ‘voluntary reporting programs’ offer immunity to the FAA employee, provided their report is promptly submitted, and provided the employee committed no illegalities during the reported incident. But, far more importantly to both FAA and NATCA, the reports are locked up, with the contents not even releasable in redacted form to FOIA requests.
FAA first implemented a NATCA agreement for this type of program on March 31, 2008. At the time, FAA management was scrambling to prepare for they knew would be a deeply condemning Congressional Hearing on April 3, 2008, featuring numerous FAA aviation safety inspectors, including Bobby Boutris and Doug Peters. The hearing ran all day long, and received wide media coverage, revealing a story of how FAA managers had rejected safety concerns expressed about Southwest Airlines maintenance related to fuselages that would split open and suddenly depressurize. Here is an opening comment by Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Oberstar:
“Mr. Boutris, we will begin with you, but, at the outset, I want to express my great appreciation to all of the members of this panel for the public-spirited courage it took when you ran the length of administrative procedures to call to account the failing practices and came to no avail, that you had the courage to step forward and come to our Committee and say something serious is amiss. And I regret that a death threat ensued in that process, but I am greatly relieved that it is under investigation by law enforcement authorities. You deserve the gratitude of the flying public and of the Members of this Committee.”
The entire hearing record is a worthwhile read, but the records submitted by witnesses go much deeper. For example, see the extensive statement by Joseph Thrash, as submitted to the hearing record. A decade before ATSAP, a similar program called ‘ASAP’ was created between FAA and selected major airlines. Mr. Thrash reveals how that program was very badly abused, used to identify and cull out whistleblowers, but also used to cover up serious safety failures. In more recent years, ATSAP was abused by FAA, to refuse to disclose to a court case, evidence that would have shown a concealed controller error at Camarillo on July 25, 2010.