History of the Aviation Programmes

CHIRP was formed in 1982 as a result of a joint initiative between the Chief Scientific Officer Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Chief Medical Officer CAA and the Commandant Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine (IAM).  

The programme was based on the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) that had been formed in the United States of America in 1976 under the management of National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA). ASRS was introduced in response to a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following an investigation into a Controlled Flight into Terrain major accident involving a US airline that revealed that a number of previous near accidents with similar causal factors had occurred but had not been reported through the formal systems that existed at that time.

The CHIRP organisation was initially formed as a research project within the IAM, Farnborough, which continued to provide management for the Programme until 1994. In 1986, following representation from several professional bodies, CHIRP was expanded to include the processing and analysis of reports from air traffic control officers. In April 1994, following the formation of the Defence Research Agency (DRA), several of the IAM functions were transferred to the DRA. As part of this process, management responsibility for CHIRP was transferred to DRA/Centre for Human Sciences where it remained until 31 December 1995.

In 1994 a comprehensive, independent, review of CHIRP was conducted by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (GAPAN) [Now known as the Honourable Company of Air Pilots (HCAP]. The review was conducted against the background of an increasing level of concern among professional bodies in several of the major aviation nations that, whereas the air transport accident/incident rate due to technical failures had declined progressively to an extremely low level, the accident rate due to Human Factors related causal factors had remained essentially constant and consequently had become a much more dominant cause in major accidents.

One of the principal recommendations of the GAPAN review was that the Programme be restructured to enable it to make a more effective contribution to the resolution of important safety-related issues in the UK air transport industry. Following this restructuring, in mid-1997 the programme was extended to incorporate licensed engineers and Approved Maintenance Organisations. During 1998/1999, the Programme was also made available to the General Aviation sector and, in July 2001, the Programme was further extended to include Cabin Crew. In mid-2019 the Programme was again expanded to include the rapidly emerging Drone/UAS sector.