FAA Could Improve Overall Aviation Safety and Reduce Costs Associated With Airport Instrument Landing Systems

RCED-85-24: Published: Apr 3, 1985. Publicly Released: Apr 3, 1985.

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GAO discussed ways the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could improve overall aviation safety and reduce the costs associated with airport instrument landing systems (ILS), focusing on whether: (1) ILS operated by FAA are justified; and (2) opportunities exist for FAA to reduce the cost of operating and maintaining ILS.

GAO found that ILS are not economically justified when the estimated costs of owning, operating, and maintaining them exceeds the quantified economic value of the benefits. Using FAA criteria, GAO identified 22 ILS which did not appear justified and reviewed 40 other ILS which were installed to meet special needs and found that FAA had not collected the data needed to determine whether the systems were meeting those needs. GAO found that FAA could improve overall aviation safety and reduce costs by ensuring that existing ILS are located where they are needed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA agreed to replace 78 of the remaining 81 tube-type systems with solid-state systems.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to replace all tube-type ILS with solid-state ILS at the earliest possible time.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FAA advised that all 22 locations in this recommendation had been analyzed and only one meets the decommissioning criteria.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should, before acquiring any new ILS, direct the Administrator, FAA, to perform the required computer-generated detailed benefit-cost analysis for the 22 ILS not installed to meet special conditions or needs and which appear to meet FAA decommissioning criteria. Those that are found not to be justified should be decommissioned and relocated at airports meeting FAA safety and operational efficiency criteria.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FAA advised that all 22 locations in this recommendation had been analyzed and only one meets the decommissioning criteria.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should, before acquiring any new ILS, direct the Administrator, FAA, to collect the data to determine whether ILS installed to meet special conditions or needs, including those installed under a satellite airport program or specifically to meet training needs, are accomplishing their objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOT disagreed and stated that reliever and satellite airports must provide facilities such as ILS that are to serve as the alternatives to large hubs or commercial service airports.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should, before acquiring any new ILS, direct the Administrator, FAA, to establish criteria for decommissioning ILS installed to meet special conditions or needs that clearly identify when conditions or needs which justify the systems cease to exist or change significantly. Those that are not accomplishing their objectives and that are not justified on the basis of benefit-cost criteria developed by FAA should be decommissioned and relocated at airports meeting FAA safety and operational efficiency criteria.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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