By Darlene Y. Cowsert, Air Force Safety Center
/ Published June 12, 2012
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The Air Force Safety Center continues to develop and deploy enhancements to the Air Force Safety Automated System to provide accurate mishap information and timely risk mitigation data to all levels of command.
AFSAS is a Web-enabled mishap reporting and analysis system that's accessible 24/7 worldwide with a Controlled Access Card and Internet. The system is compliant with DOD and Air Force safety business rules with continuously-expanding capabilities, from automating the dispatch of mishap messages to tracking mishap prevention recommendations.
AFSAS was launched in March 2007 as the single integrated mishap system for reporting aviation, ground, weapons, space, human factors and nuclear mishaps. It's become the reporting mechanism and repository for more than 15,000 reportable mishaps and events a year.
"We work with the system users to make safety a complete partner with all Air Force Airmen and all they do," said Jay Johnson, chief of the Air Force Safety Center Analysis and Integration Division. "In the last five years alone, we've acted on more than 16,000 user feedback requests to improve AFSAS."
First-time users may appreciate the intuitive functions designed for ease of navigation while frequent users rely on the expediency of data retrieval.
"Before the AFSAS data retrieval tool was created, we had to send a request for data to the safety center, and that labor-intensive effort could take four to six weeks," said David Etrheim, occupational safety manager at Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas. "Today, I can pull Air Force-wide data in a few minutes, download it, and sort and filter it as I need it."
Etrheim cited the Motorcycle Unit Safety Tracking Tool, recently released in AFSAS, as one of the enhancements to make viable data available.
"We recently used MUSTT to look at the percentage of sport bike riders in AETC versus the percentage of motorcycle accidents in AETC that involved sport bikes," Etrheim said. "The results were expected, but the data gave us facts. Sport bike riders accounted for roughly 30 percent of our motorcycle riders and more than 60 percent of our motorcycle mishaps. That helped us focus our limited resources on a targeted mishap prevention strategy."
Lt. Col. Jacob Rosser, flight safety officer at Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Ill., has used AFSAS since it was launched in 2007 when he was assigned to the 436th Airlift Wing, Dover, AFB, Del. "The immediate impact at the wing level was the simplification of data input into the safety database," he said. "AFSAS improves the quality of mishap final reports, standardizes mishap final reports across the Air Force and has improved the ability of wings and MAJCOMs to be in compliance with safety center guidance for mishap investigations, as well as required messages and reports."
According to Rosser, AFSAS has given safety professionals the ability to quickly ascertain mishap trends and causes - or disprove them. "AFSAS has enabled AMC flight and ground safety to convene targeted safety investigation boards to address emerging risks to Airmen and equipment."
"It all starts with getting with the requirements right," Johnson said. A team of engineers, safety specialists, aviators, computer programmers and system analysts meet daily to track assigned tasks that are identified and driven by the AFSAS steering committee that establishes priorities in development, followed by 30 days of intense development and maintenance of the entire system.
The ability to track trends is a significant advantage to having the needed statistics, said Mike Collins, deputy chief of the division. "It gives safety professionals and leadership the ability to identify trends and, more importantly, produce analyses that lead to recommendations and mishap prevention."
Requirements designed in greater detail drives the eventual products, future development needs and the hardware and software that's necessary to reach the ultimate objective, Collins said. "We want to give the field (wings, MAJCOMs and Headquarters Air Force) -- the comprehensive information they need to manage safety issues and prevent mishaps."
Plans for future capabilities include management of mishap investigation findings and recommendations, hazard identification, inspection processing, safety training and tracking, occupational illness reporting and analysis, as well as a cross-functional knowledge base for analysis and trending to help mitigate future mishaps.
Plans also include focusing future technology on identifying and analyzing events that result in a near accident, and using the root-cause analysis to reduce risk or prevent accidents.
"I believe AFSAS is one of the best managed information technology systems in the Air Force," said Roberto Guerrero, safety center executive director. "It helps us be good stewards of resources when we can give commanders the vehicle to get the information they need to prevent mishaps and preserve combat capabilities. We'll continue to make it an even more robust system, and evaluate its value as a potential model for a DOD-wide mishap reporting system."