Comair And Its Pilots To Begin Using Flight Operation Quality Assurance


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Comair And Its Pilots To Begin Using Flight Operation Quality Assurance

By Mike Mitchell

June 15, 2010 − Comair and the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA) have signed a letter of agreement to begin a Flight Operation Quality Assurance (FOQA) program to further improve the suite of safety-related programs at Comair.

Flight operational quality assurance (FOQA, pronounced PHO-kua), also known as flight data monitoring (FDM) or flight data analysis, is a method of capturing and analyzing the data generated by an aircraft moving through the air from one point to another.

Applying the information learned from this analysis helps to find new ways to improve flight safety and increase overall operational efficiency. Several airlines and air forces have initiated FOQA programs to collect, store and analyze recorded flight data. The goal is to improve the organization or unit's overall safety, increase maintenance effectiveness and reduce operational costs. (see crash of Comair Flight 191).

As a result of an ICAO Annex 6 mandate, all airlines are required under regional legislation to implement Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) programs. However, in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not yet require FOQA programs for commercial operators.


The data recorded can be either pilot generated or mechanically induced. "A significant barrier to wider adoption in the United States is pilot's universal lack of trust in who will see and act on the flight data once it is recorded and studied."

The FAA defined FOQA in its Advisory Circular #120-82, dated April 12, 2004. The agency's Air Transportation Operations Inspector's Handbook (FAA Order 8400.10, August 9, 2006) details what a valid FOQA system contains. An excerpt from Volume 1, Chapter 5, Section 2, page 1-221 of this FAA document states: "Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) is a voluntary safety program designed to improve aviation safety through the proactive use of flight-recorded data."

In India, Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) has made it mandatory for all airline operators to carry out Flight Data Analysis for flight safety. Instruction clearly states the need for a flight safety department for all scheduled operators. Non-scheduled operators are required to present a safety report on a half-yearly basis to DGCA.


The implementation of the program benefits Comair, ALPA, our passengers and our pilots, as FOQA is a proven safety program that will only enhance the safety of our airline. It is our commitment to ensure safety enhancements such as FOQA mirror the safety initiatives at Delta, our parent airline, ensuring one level of safety.


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