For more than 15 years, NATS has been closely involved with CHIRP, an organisation set up in 1982 to provide a totally independent, confidential reporting facility for members of the aviation and maritime community, with the aim of contributing to the enhancement of safety in these industries.

I have had the pleasure of representing NATS on CHIRP’s Air Transport Aviation Board since 2009 and during that time I have been part of the evolution of this organisation’s unique and well-respected confidential reporting programme. Over the years, I have enjoyed playing my part in CHIRP’s expansion as its reporting facility has grown to encompass aviation safety-related reports from flight crew, the General Aviation community and air traffic controllers, as well as licensed aircraft maintenance engineers and cabin crew.

Now, once again, CHIRP is embracing change and adapting to meet new requirements by expanding its online confidential reporting system for use by drone pilots and enthusiasts, secure in the knowledge that their personal details will remain confidential.

Increasingly, drones are a key part of the UK’s aviation industry, and the sector is expanding rapidly – and it is important that drones, or small unmanned aircraft, have the same levels of support as other types of aviation so that the SUA community can continue to foster the culture of safety first that is essential if drones are to be safely integrated into UK airspace. CHIRP’s free and easy-to-use confidential reporting facility is a valuable channel providing access to a level of independent professional scrutiny for drone operations that can help commercial drone operators and hobbyists alike better understand a wide range of real issues, explore a range of potential solutions, and benefit from the experiences of their peers.

Over the years CHIRP has become a central focus for the type of honest and open confidential reporting that forms the bedrock of the aviation industry’s strong safety culture, and NATS believes it is essential for the safe growth of the drones industry that a similar safety culture becomes second nature to all drone owners, operators and pilots, from hobbyists to commercial SUA operators.

By providing an open forum for the drones community to report drone safety concerns, CHIRP is helping pave the way towards non-judgemental lesson-learning and safety improvements – for airspace users in general and drone industry operators in particular. By identifying areas for improvement and focussing on finding collaborative solutions to drone-related safety concerns, CHIRP’s confidential reporting can help us all benefit from others’ experience, helping us work together to make our skies even safer.

With the use of drones so rapidly on the rise in recent years and so many high-profile drone-related incidents disrupting flights at airports around the world, CHIRP hopes that by establishing a forum for open and non-judgemental discussion and lesson-learning, its free and accessible reporting facility will help embed a Just Culture ethos in the drones community similar to that found in other aviation sectors.

Professional drone operators and drone pilots using their drones for commercial purposes should continue to report drone misuse to the CAA by filing Mandatory Occurrence Reports in line with current regulatory procedures although, as for other aviation professionals, CHIRP’s drone reporting facility is available to commercial drone pilots in circumstances requiring confidentiality. Members of the public who spot drones being flown irresponsibly should contact the local police.

The safety of our skies and fair access for all airspace users are top priorities for us at NATS and we’re committed to supporting CHIRP in this new drones initiative, which is aimed primarily at leisure users and hobbyists to enhance safety and promote best practice. We’re hoping that CHIRP will become an important port of call for sharing and reporting drone-related incidents and events.

CHIRP’s confidential reporting service can be accessed here:


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