The FAA released a Draft Advisory Circular AC-121-XX concerning the voluntary hazardous material (HAZMAT) disclosure reporting program. The proposed AC provides guidance for operators when reporting to FAA instances of noncompliance through the voluntary disclosure reporting program. Part 135 operators who carry HAZMAT would be subject to the provisions of this proposed AC. The voluntary disclosure reporting program discussed in the proposed AC applies to violations of 49 CFR part 175, which cover certain reporting, training, acceptance, loading, unloading, handling and stowage requirements, but it does not apply to violations of 49 CFR parts 171, 172, and 173.
According to the FAA, it believes that aviation safety is well served by incentives for operators to identify and correct their own instances of noncompliance and to invest their resources in efforts to prevent a recurrence. Further, the FAA believes that the policy of forgoing civil penalty actions when an operator detects a violation, discloses the violation to the FAA, and takes prompt corrective action to ensure the violation does not recur is designed to encourage compliance with the regulations, foster safe operating practices, and promote the development of internal evaluation programs.
Under this program, voluntary disclosure of covered instances of non-compliance in accordance with the terms of the proposed AC would result in the FAA issuing a letter of correction, rather than it initiating a civil penalty action. Although the case would then be closed upon the issuance of the letter of correction by the FAA, the case could be reopened if the operator failed to complete the comprehensive fix required by the letter of correction. If that happened, the FAA could then initiate legal enforcement action.
The voluntary disclosure program as proposed would consist of six steps: (1) The operator would make the initial notification to the HAZMAT Branch Manager of an apparent violation; (2) The HAZMAT Branch Manager would respond to the initial notification and request a written report from the operator; (3) The operator would provide a written report to the HAZMAT Branch Manager; (4) The HAZMAT Branch Manager would evaluate the operator’s written report; (5) The HAZMAT Branch Manager would review the proposed Comprehensive Fix the operator submitted with the written report and concur or recommend changes; (6) The operator carries out its Comprehensive Fix and conducts a subsequent audit; and (7) The HAZMAT Branch Manager makes a final assessment.
Operators who carry hazardous materials should review the proposed AC in further detail. Upon further review, if you would like additional information, or to submit comments, you may email either firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.