Anyway, I dreamt that as I added power for takeoff, I suddenly realized that since I was on a grass runway, I assumed that there was no control tower – but there was and I had neglected to contact them for takeoff clearance. To make matters worse, I had not even called for taxi clearance. I immediately aborted my imaginary takeoff. That was when I awoke, and the first thought in my mind was that I should immediately file a NASA report. At least I got that part right.
So you are thinking that the dream is continuing on its own bizarre little way. Why would I want to contact the National Aeronautics and Space Administration? Well, there is a real good reason. By filing a NASA report, I can spare myself the disciplinary action that is sure to follow for this runway incursion that I just committed.
In the mid 1970s, the FAA realized that they had a problem in trying to get a handle on potential safety issues. The only problems they could document were those that somehow came to their attention and resulted in either an aircraft accident or aircrew / pilot / controller disciplinary action. No one was coming to the Agency with first-hand reports of “here is what I did wrong.” After all, who would put themselves in that position?
Well, the FAA did not have the reputation of being the friendly organization that it is today. (yes, it was even worse.) So, they knew that there was no way that anyone was going to admit errors to them. But they teamed up with NASA, and on April 30, 1975, the two agencies officially formed the Aviation Safety Reporting System. And this was put out to the aviation community in Aviation Advisory Circular 00-46E. While the reporting system involves mechanics, controllers, and aircrew members, for the sake of this column I am only concerned with its affects on us pilots. And the crux of the circular, as far as we pilots are concerned, is in paragraph 9(c):