Government Operations:

Allegations Concerning Customs Flight Safety

OSI-96-5R: Published: Jan 17, 1996. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO investigated allegations that U.S. Customs Service agents allowed illegal alterations to general aviation aircraft and subsequently allowed the reintroduction of unsafe aircraft into general aviation. GAO noted that: (1) there is no evidence that Customs agents allowed illegal alterations to general aviation aircraft and subsequently allowed the reintroduction of unsafe aircraft into general aviation; (2) Customs agents ordered fixed-base operators (FBO) to modify general aviation aircraft for certain undercover narcotics operations, but instructed FBO to return the aircraft to their original condition after operations were completed; (3) Customs agents did not inspect the aircraft to ensure that they had been returned to their original condition because there was no policy requiring them to do so; (4) although four FBO were found guilty of reporting false aircraft information, there is no evidence that these actions were related to Customs undercover operations; and (5) Customs agents acted reasonably when they impeded the Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation from inspecting and investigating FBO aircraft, since they were acting to protect the anonymity of certain undercover narcotics operations.

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