Military Airlift:

Management Controls Over Charter Airlift Need To Be Strengthened

NSIAD-87-67: Published: Mar 6, 1987. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the Department of Defense's (DOD) policies and procedures for chartering commercial aircraft; (2) oversight procedures for monitoring carrier performance and compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety regulations; and (3) the investigation of the accident at Gander, Newfoundland, that resulted in the deaths of 248 U.S. military personnel.

GAO found that: (1) the Military Airlift Command (MAC) did not include appropriate safety clauses in its contracts with foreign airlines; (2) the ramp inspection program did not provide sufficient coverage of contractor aircraft or air taxi operators; (3) the safety clauses in current transportation agreements do not specifically charge contractors with the responsibility for flight safety; (4) in-flight quality checks were very limited; (5) DOD and FAA did not effectively communicate on charter oversight; (6) MAC did not include an evaluation of airline security programs in its airlift capability surveys; and (7) the December 1985 DC-8 accident was still under investigation to determine the aircraft's loaded weight and balance, the possible influence of ice buildup, and the aircraft's maintenance record.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD held discussions with pilots and maintenance personnel during surveys.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MAC, to improve the airlift capability survey process by requiring discussions with pilots and other air crew and maintenance personnel and providing increased emphasis on evaluations of contract maintenance facilities and quality control over this maintenance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC developed a procedure on this action and intends to put safety clauses in foreign airlift contracts.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MAC, to include appropriate safety clauses in contracts with foreign airlift contractors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC is exploring ways to obtain safety data on foreign airlift contractors. MAC is receiving some safety data on foreign airlift contractors.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MAC, to develop ways to obtain and evaluate information on the capabilities and safety records of potential foreign airlift contractors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC developed ways to control waivers of the seat row spacing rule.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MAC, to closely control waivers of the MAC seat row spacing rule.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD completed revising passenger weight and baggage criteria.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to establish a permanent policy on MAC interim passenger and baggage weight criteria and the Commander, MAC, to inform existing contractors of the interim passenger and baggage weight criteria and include these criteria in its new airlift contracts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC will review contractors' criteria on passenger weight and baggage.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to establish a permanent policy on MAC interim passenger and baggage weight criteria and the Commander, MAC, to review contractor application of the criteria during airlift capability resurveys.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MTMC revised survey criteria and will have MAC do airlift surveys on existing and new airlift contractors.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander of the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC), to ensure that airlift capability surveys are performed on MTMC airlift contractors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MTMC revised MATA to include more specific safety clauses.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MTMC, to revise the military air transportation agreement (MATA) to include more specific safety clauses.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MTMC informed carriers about baggage weight criteria and revised MATA.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MAC, to inform MTMC airlift contractors of the interim criteria on passenger and baggage weights and include these criteria in the revised MATA.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MTMC periodically reminds customers that hazardous materials are not allowed on passenger aircraft.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MTMC, to periodically remind its customers that hazardous materials are not allowed on passenger aircraft and develop instructions covering this regulation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC performs inspection on 100 percent of all scheduled international charter missions. Ramp inspection data has been automated, enabling MAC to track and analyze inspection results.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MAC, to improve the management of its ramp inspection program to include: (1) centrally selecting the flights and aircraft to be inspected and evaluating the results by contractor; (2) expanding the ramp inspection program to commercial airport locations; (3) targeting aircraft not included in the airlift capability surveys for ramp inspections where possible; and (4) expanding the program to include MTMC charter airline flights, as well as MTMC and MAC air taxi flights, where possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC and MTMC improved the customer comments form on service and safety concerns.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MAC, to improve the passenger comments process by: (1) developing and using a two-copy form with one copy always sent to MAC; (2) centrally evaluating the comments categorized by contractor; and (3) redesigning the form to focus passengers' reporting on safety and quality problems they might have noticed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MTMC improved its quality control process.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MTMC, to evaluate expanding MTMC efforts to monitor in-flight performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A new comment form was developed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MTMC, to consider alternative approaches to the MTMC passenger comments process to make it more timely and redesign the passenger comments form to add space for comments on flight safety issues, when necessary.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  15. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD improved communication with the Department of Transportation (DOT).

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Transportation should work together to develop policies and procedures to improve communication so that each has access to the information it needs to adequately discharge its responsibilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD improved communication with DOT.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Transportation should work together to develop policies and procedures to improve communication so that each has access to the information it needs to adequately discharge its responsibilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  17. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD developed specific plans to implement the recommendation in its airlift safety report.

    Recommendation: To help ensure optimum results from the DOD study and recommendations on commercial passenger airlift policies and procedures, the Secretary of Defense should establish specific implementation plans for the recommendations in the report.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  18. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD is implementing this recommendation by increasing staff devoted to air carrier analysis and inspection.

    Recommendation: To help ensure optimum results from the DOD study and recommendations on commercial passenger airlift policies and procedures, the Secretary of Defense should commit the personnel and other resources required to implement the recommendations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  19. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOD Inspector General completed the review.

    Recommendation: To help ensure optimum results from the DOD study and recommendations on commercial passenger airlift policies and procedures, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD Inspector General to provide an independent assessment of the implementation of the recommendations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  20. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: P.L. 99-661, section 1204, directs 12 months. DOD does not intend to use a longer base period.

    Recommendation: To help ensure optimum results from the DOD study and recommendations on commercial passenger airlift policies and procedures, the Secretary of Defense should evaluate, over time, whether 12 months of prior commercial service provides sufficient data to make effective evaluations of potential airlift contractors' performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  21. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD initiated action to obtain security data from FAA.

    Recommendation: To help ensure air transportation security on military charters, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to provide FAA foreign airport security assessments and classifications to DOD.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  22. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD obtained more security data from FAA and developed a way to pass it along to the various commands.

    Recommendation: To help ensure air transportation security on military charters, the Secretary of Defense should provide these foreign airport security assessments and classifications to the military departments and commands responsible for personnel air transportation security and safety.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  23. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD and FAA have established a program of sharing information on foreign airport security.

    Recommendation: To help ensure air transportation security on military charters, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to change FAA security regulations to require that: (1) DOD charter contractors follow FAA security procedures tailored to military requirements; and (2) FAA provide DOD charter operators with information on the classifications of foreign airports and the security measures required.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  24. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MATA now include security clauses.

    Recommendation: To help ensure air transportation security on military charters, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MTMC, to include airport and in-flight security clauses in MTMC transportation agreements and monitor the implementation of those clauses.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  25. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The requirement for DOD airport security oversight are incorporated in procedures for ramp inspection cockpit observations, administrative service-quality evaluations, and air-carrier capability surveys.

    Recommendation: To help ensure air transportation security on military charters, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, MAC, to provide for evaluation of contractors' airport and in-flight security programs during the airlift capability surveys.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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