4.13. Incident reporting and continuous improvement

The law in most countries mandates pilots in command to file reports of any serious incidents to the civil aviation authority within a certain number of days. Typically, this includes all incidents which lead to serious injury and all incidents which caused a damage above a certain amount.

In addition to the legal incident reporting requirements there should be system in place to ensure that all incidents of a certain severity are reported up the chain internally. Senior management can only intervene and take action if they receive such information. It is best to have such an internal incident reporting requirement in written form as part of the operating procedures or as a standalone instruction to pilots.

Reporting incidents is a very sensitive matter, since civil aviation authorities might have to or choose to investigate and this can lead to significant repercussions if laws or regulations had been violated. In some countries there might be a legal requirement to report incidents to more than one authority (e.g. FAA and NTSB in US).

Local legislation might require the scene of accidents (e.g. the drone wreck) to be left unchanged until the investigating authority approves a clean-up.


  1. Hefty fines and/or the loss of the operator license in case of non-compliance.
  2. Without incident reports senior management remains unaware of ongoing safety problems and might not become of the need for corrective actions.

Audit Steps

  1. Review civil aviation authority mandated reporting of accidents and compliance with this requirement.
  2. Validate that incident reporting to authorities involves the legal department by default.
  3. Review internal reporting requirements and compliance with this requirement.
  4. Reconcile write-off requests with accident reports and check the timeliness of the reporting.
  5. Validate that reported incidents are investigated and trigger timely revision of procedures and checklists to prevent reoccurrences.
  6. Review the feedback loop between past incidents and preventive maintenance schedules.


drone audit program index