New US government rules announced on Wednesday will require airlines to collect and analyse safety data in an effort to spot troubling trends and help prevent accidents.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the causes of 123 accidents between 2001 and 2010 could have been identified beforehand if airlines had safety management systems in place.
Passenger and cargo airlines must have such systems by 2018. The rules detail the kind of data to be collected and analysed, but give airlines flexibility about gathering the information. Airlines will be required to develop programs to analyse the data.
Most US airlines already have safety systems, or elements of them.
"Aviation is incredibly safe, but continued growth means that we must be proactive and smart about how we use safety data to detect and mitigate risk," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
He said the safety systems give "airlines the tools they need to further reduce risk in commercial aviation."
The FAA has been under pressure for nearly a decade to develop such rules. In 2006, the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency without power to force action, told countries to require their airlines to adopt safety management systems and set standards.
Following the 2009 crash of a regional airliner near Buffalo, New York, Congress passed an aviation safety law that included a deadline of July 2012 for the FAA to issue rules requiring airlines to have safety management systems.