NASA’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance released NPR 8621.1D, NASA Procedural Requirements for Mishap and Close Call Reporting, Investigating, and Recordkeeping, effective July 6, 2020. In addition to various administrative changes, the update includes two new chapters focused on commercial launch and aircraft mishaps.
“Like every complex, high-performing organization, we’re experiencing changes in work and responsibilities, especially as NASA adds more contractual work,” said Ken O’Connor, NASA Mishap Program executive. “There is a need within the NASA community for specific information on mishap investigations related to aircraft. And the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel recommended that NASA address its responsibilities in the conduct of mishaps of commercial launches.”
The new chapters in NPR 8621.1D are Chapter 7, Requirements for Commercial Launch Mishap and Close Call Investigations and Chapter 8, NASA Aircraft Mishap and Close Call Investigations. Chapter 7 provides content required in Mishap Preparedness and Contingency Plans that support Space Act Agreements and coordination with NASA partners (e.g., the United States Air Force, Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)). Chapter 8 describes key details for readiness in conducting aircraft-related mishaps and notification of NTSB-defined accidents, per 49CFR, Part 830.
“I would say the additions of both these new chapters really boil down to a better, more specific outline of the responsibilities for NASA if a commercial launch mishap occurs, and clarity in reporting and investigating aircraft mishaps,” said O’Connor. “It is key in how information is disseminated, and by whom, in those situations. It’s not an entirely new concept being introduced, investigations were always required, it just provides a more thorough plan to ensure we’re prepared if something happens.”
With this revision now in effect, efforts to refine, clarify and implement NASA mishap policy will continue to evolve and be addressed in subsequent releases.
Questions about the policy update can be directed to O’Connor.