What’s the difference between FDM and FOQA?

Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) is a term typically used in the US. Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) is the common term in the rest of the world.


FDM/FOQA is a process. It uses flight data collected on-board an aircraft in order to analyze trends in order to detect possible mishap precursors.

What are the benefits of FDM?

The primary goal of FDM is to improve operational safety.

What does it mean when data is “de-identified”?

“De-identified” data has flight crew and other specific information removed for any use outside of the immediate operations staff.

What is “just culture”?

The point of FDM is not to find out who to punish for mistakes. Instead a “just culture” is desired, in which flight operations staff are encouraged, even rewarded, for providing essential safety-related information, even if they have made a mistake. Over time, an atmosphere of trust is developed. It must also be clear where the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior is.

Is an FDM program required?

That depends on aircraft and operation type

  • In 2008 the International Civil Aviation Organization ICOA Annex 6 mandate required FDM, as part of an SMS program, for the operation of fixed-wing aircraft over 27,000 kg.

  • In April 2018 the FAA implemented the HEMS/HAA (Helicopter Emergency Medical Services / Helicopter Air Ambulance) rule (FAR 135.607), which requires operators in this field to install flight data recorders in each rotorcraft.