PROACTIVE SAFETY PROGRAMS: AFSOC’s Latest Safety and Readiness Tools

  • Published
  • By John Brainerd
  • Air Force Special Operations Command

(This article was originally posted in the 2019 Spring/Summer edition of Focus, AFSOC's Commando Safety Journal.)

MFOQA what? ASAP – as soon as possible? LOSA – no idea…

Well, these are the acronyms for the DoD and

HAF-directed proactive safety programs:

• MFOQA: Military Flight Operations Quality Assurance

• ASAP: Airman Safety Action Program

• LOSA: Line Operations Safety Audit

These programs allow commanders and personnel to identify and quantify risks and threats to their operations that were previously unrecognized. These programs enhance safety, operations, training, maintenance, and requirements through improved utilization of recorded aircraft systems data, flight performance data, and self-reported errors and threats to not only identify hazards but also mitigate risks to prevent mishaps. Proactive safety programs engender a culture where all personnel are willing to identify hazards and errors, and not cover them up. These programs are identity protected and aggregate the data to identify trends, human factors issues, mishap precursors, and effectiveness of corrective actions. Safety, operations, training, maintenance, and requirements communities can apply the analysis results and corrective actions to improve operations, combat capability, and mission readiness, all AFSOC priorities!

Current guidance for proactive safety programs falls under DoDI 6055.19 Aviation Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Programs released 11 Apr 17 and AFI 91-225 Aviation Safety Programs released 26 Jan 15. The USAF programs are overseen by the Air Force Safety Center, which provided AFSOC with a dedicated proactive safety program manager in the summer of 2017.

The birth of the MFOQA program came in 2005, two years after the then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, challenged the armed services with the goal of reducing mishaps by 50% by 2005 (later changed in 2005 to 75% by 2008). The then Deputy Secretary of Defense, David Chu, created a military version of the Flight Operational Quality Assurance program used by Federal Aviation Administration to improve safety in the civilian aviation community. With the Office of the Secretary of Defense Memo Military Flight Operations Quality Assurance Process Implementation dated 11 Oct 05, MFOQA was born. This memo was later replaced by DoDI 6055.19 making it a DoD requirement across all fleets. The MFOQA program was initiated in ACC, AETC, and AMC and later expanded with AFSOC and AFGSC in 2017. As of 1 Jan 19, MFOQA analysis is being conducted on AFSOC aircraft to include the MC-130J (with data aggregated and analyzed with ACC HC-130Js), EC-130J, and MQ-9 (also along with ACC). AC-130J data is currently being collected, and analysis will begin soon. Additionally, efforts are underway to bring the CV-22 into the program, with the next aircraft likely being the C-146. Other commands are analyzing data from the HH-60G, C-5M, C-17, C-32, C-37, C-130J, C-40, B-1B, KC/ RC-135, T-6, and F-16.

The MFOQA program allows the analysis and trending of aircraft system and flight performance data. MFOQA provides tools for commanders to: establish a baseline for actual operations; identify, mitigate, and monitor operational risks while detecting precursors to aviation mishaps; and identify operational inefficiencies. MFOQA gives capabilities to multiple levels and functional areas to improve and enhance mission effectiveness and accomplishment through the awareness of trends, continuous knowledge of aircraft systems performance, and insight into the effectiveness of procedures, policy, and aircrew training on actual mission accomplishment. Flight data files used for MFOQA analyses are factual information and are not covered by USAF-privileged safety information procedures. However, data collected for or analyses generated from proactive safety programs shall not be used for monitoring personnel performance to initiate crew-qualification downgrade or decertification, or to take adverse personnel action, including non-judicial or judicial action, except if the analysis or report indicates that either the activity or event involved an intentional disregard for safety, or an intentional false statement was made. In those cases, the analysis or report no longer falls in the proactive aviation safety arena with the protections of the DoDI and AFI. The main goal of MFOQA is to reduce mishaps; that’s it. Sure, MFOQA analysis can also be used by maintenance to evaluate the efficiency of fuel consumption, track individual engine performance, and assist predictive maintenance programs like CBM+, but the primary objective remains mishap reduction.

ASAP is an identity-protected, self-reporting system designed to encourage the voluntary reporting of observed, discovered, or potential safety events, incidents, or concerns that could increase risk to operations. ASAP augments existing safety reporting programs by capturing issues not normally disclosed by traditional hazard-reporting and mishap-prevention programs. ASAP reports identify and highlight hazards, threats, and errors that may otherwise remain unknown. ASAP involves leaders and airmen in the mishap reduction process by relying on everyone to report any and all issues and events, and then allowing commanders to analyze the resulting information for trends, educating personnel, and developing and implementing risk-reduction or -mitigation strategies. By enhancing situational awareness, improving risk management, and reducing risk, ASAP reporting can effectively protect people, conserve resources, maximize efficiency, and improve readiness. The ASAP-related AFI states that “AF personnel will not be subject to coercion, discrimination or reprisal for participation,” but the MFOQA flight data caveats (i.e., about not being privileged information, as well as false statements or an intentional disregard for safety not being protected by the governing DoDI and AFI) apply. AFSEC developed an “app” for ASAP so now you can volunteer an ASAP report via your smart phone, personal electronic device, or online at

LOSA is an observation program developed to gather safety-related data on environmental conditions, operational complexity, and human factors issues during everyday operations. MAJCOMs may choose to conduct LOSAs within their command in order to confidentially collect data on situational factors and personnel behavior encountered in day-to-day operations. Based on threat and error management, LOSA contributes to proactive safety by identifying the threats personnel face, the common errors personnel experience, and the best practices employed by personnel to trap, mitigate, and manage those threats and errors. The LOSA process provides a thorough and methodical assessment of strengths and weaknesses across the aviation community. With this information, the USAF can make improvements to training, TOs, AFIs, and processes to make the work environment safer and more efficient. LOSAs are not check rides or evaluations; instead, silent observers document not only experienced operational threats and errors but also their mitigation or management. LOSAs provide snapshots of operational performance across the community that are then used to make proactive safety changes to prevent future accidents or incidents and improve efficiency. AFSOC is looking at the possibility of a LOSA on the entire CV-22 enterprise in the near future to kick off the command’s program.

MFOQA, ASAP, and LOSA must work in concert to fully develop a proactive safety culture without fear of retribution. Airmen participation and trust in these programs are essential for success. To find out even more about these proactive safety programs, contact your local safety office or review the governing DoDI and AFI mentioned above.