Fault tree analysis (FTA) is a top down, deductive failure analysis in which an undesired state of a system is analyzed using Boolean logic to combine a series of lower-level events. This analysis method is mainly used in the fields of safety engineering and reliability engineering to understand how systems can fail, to identify the best ways to reduce risk or to determine (or get a feeling for) event rates of a safety accident or a particular system level (functional) failure. FTA is used in the aerospace, nuclear power, chemical and process, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and other high-hazard industries; but is also used in fields as diverse as risk factor identification relating to social service system failure.FTA is also used in software engineering for debugging purposes and is closely related to cause-elimination technique used to detect bugs.
In aerospace, the more general term “system Failure Condition” is used for the “undesired state” / Top event of the fault tree. These conditions are classified by the severity of their effects. The most severe conditions require the most extensive fault tree analysis. These “system Failure Conditions” and their classification are often previously determined in the functional Hazard analysis.