Aviation Programme

CHIRP’s Aviation Programme improves safety in the air by providing a totally independent confidential reporting system for all individuals involved in aviation in UK’s airspace. 

The fundamental principle underpinning CHIRP is that all reports are treated in absolute confidence in order that reporters’ identities are protected – any associated information and concerns or experiences are only communicated to external agencies and organisations with the agreement of the reporter and then only in a disidentified format to protect their anonymity.

CHIRP is primarily concerned with safety-related reports about Human Factors and/or Just Culture/Reporting Culture issues.  Such reports may include but are not confined to: human skills, performance and training; rules, procedures and regulations; the design and use of aircraft and equipment; communication; workplaces, manpower, organisation and management.

CHIRP also provides an independent confidential reporting function for reporting Bullying, Harassment, Discrimination and Victimisation (BHDV).  It is recognised that one-off or repeated instances of BHDV can have a deleterious effect on individual performance, mental health, stress and company culture, and that these in themselves can have second-order safety implications. In conjunction with the CAA, CHIRP has therefore implemented a BHDV reporting function that will log received reports and associated information within the CHIRP confidential database. Only CHIRP staff will have access to these details, there is no connectivity to CAA systems.  CHIRP has no specific expertise or resources to investigate reports about BHDV and our role is to anonymously aggregate the data from associated reports to build a picture of the prevalence of BHDV in the aviation sector, the human factor and safety impacts this may have, and explore improvements that might be made.

CHIRP welcomes safety-related reports from: 

  • flight crew/pilots
  • cabin crew
  • ATCOs/FISOs/A-G operators
  • licensed engineers and maintenance/engineering personnel
  • engineers/technical staff involved with design and manufacturing processes
  • ground handling/operations/security personnel
  • individual aircraft/drone owners/operators
  • flying display pilots/coordinators/directors

CHIRP is not able to investigate reports that involve industrial relations, terms and conditions of employment, or personality-based conflicts. We also do not normally accept reports submitted anonymously because they cannot be validated.

It is important to understand that any aviation-related safety issue that gives cause for concern may be reported to CHIRP but the legal responsibility remains to report accidents to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), and safety-related occurrences (including accidents), to the Civil Aviation Authority in accordance with UK regulations. CHIRP does not replace organisations’ Safety Management System (SMS) reporting schemes when these are available and, if they feel able, reporters should always consider using these first before coming to CHIRP because this should result in a faster and more integrated response from the organisation without CHIRP acting as an interlocutor.

Although the UK CAA Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR) process should be the default method for reporting serious incidents, there are circumstances when a reporter may not wish or be able to report through the normal process for personal reasons (for example if they fear that their identification will result in retribution by an organisation or entity that does not fully embrace a Just Culture reporting environment), or they may have reported through the formal channels but were unable to achieve a resolution. In these cases, CHIRP compliments the MOR and other formal reporting systems operated by many UK organisations by providing a means by which individuals are able to raise safety-related issues of concern without being identified to their peer group, management, or the Regulatory Authority.  

Others report to CHIRP because they may simply want to pass on a learning experience or important safety lesson from a situation that might otherwise not be reported because it fell below the threshold for formal reporting or represented circumstances where things ‘nearly’ went wrong but for the successful intervention of those involved. 

The CHIRP Aviation Programme team is comprised of a small Secretariat of specialists with professional and technical expertise in aviation operations and Human Factors. The programme is also able to draw on the assistance of a wide range of individual experts and specialist bodies across the spectrum of aviation in order to promote the resolution of issues raised.  Independent advice is provided primarily on the Human Factors aspects of reports, involving such topics as errors or mistakes, fatigue, poor ergonomics, management pressures, deficiencies in communication or team performance.

Further information on CHIRP and its purpose can be found in AIC P 007/2024; a link is here.