FAA's Plan To Improve the Air Traffic Control System

AFMD-83-34: Published: Feb 16, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 1983.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Walter L. Anderson
(202) 275-5044
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) planning, management, and acquisition of existing and future automated systems for air traffic control (ATC) and management.

GAO found that the National Airspace System (NAS) Plan is a step in the right direction toward modernizing facilities and equipment and toward supporting needed engineering and research. However, FAA has not yet developed a comprehensive agencywide long-range plan and the NAS plan is incomplete because it does not address its long-range requirements. The NAS plan considers only the ATC system facilities and equipment, one of three major areas which make up the system. GAO also found that the management, planning, and acquisition of en route and terminal ATC automation projects have not been adequate. In addition, a review of communications and navigations projects disclosed technical problems, uncoordinated implementation schedules, and questionable user acceptance of the projects. GAO believes that FAA efforts to realign automation engineering functions and establish a central program office for the computer replacement project will help to improve management control; however, some automation functions still need to be integrated. FAA is experiencing delays and cost overruns in many systems and software development projects designed to implement safety and fuel efficiency improvements. On the communications projects which GAO reviewed, it found technical problems and a need for further testing and cost analysis.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to implement a comprehensive planning process for NAS that will result in a long-range plan. This process should provide a mechanism to: (1) define system requirements agencywide; (2) establish objectives, strategies, and priorities for these requirements; (3) coordinate preliminary or final results of ongoing reviews with implementation of the NAS plan; and (4) update the NAS plan and identify project priorities, contingencies, total and subsystem costs, and interdependencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to fully analyze and evaluate the appropriateness and cost/benefits of a firm fixed-price, cost-sharing, and cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contract for the computer demonstration, and report the results of this analysis to the Department of Transportation Acquisition Executive for determination of the most appropriate contract method before awarding the demonstration contract.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to strengthen the management function which would have the authority, responsibility, and accountability required to alleviate problems identified, and would satisfy the increased management demands of the major upgrade.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to assess and resolve promptly the identified critical communication issues. This should include: (1) enforcement of further testing to ensure that performance requirements are satisfied for the Microwave Landing System, Mode S, and the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System before implementation proceeds; (2) assurance of user acceptance of Mode S, the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System, and the Flight Service Station Automation Project before proceeding with full implementation; (3) reevaluation of total costs and benefits of the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System before implementation; and (4) reassessment of costs and benefits to Flight Service Station Automation Project users so that a decision can be made about implementing the program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 14, 2016

Sep 2, 2016

Aug 8, 2016

Jul 28, 2016

Jul 13, 2016

Jul 7, 2016

Jun 24, 2016

Jun 21, 2016

May 26, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here