Air Traffic Control:

FAA's Interim Actions to Reduce Near Mid-Air Collisions

RCED-89-149: Published: Jun 30, 1989. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) reported near-mid-air collisions involving commercial carriers to determine which locations had the highest frequency of such incidents; (2) the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) short-term actions and plans to reduce the risk of commercial carrier mid-air collisions; and (3) FAA use of near-mid-air collision data to evaluate the effectiveness of its actions.

GAO found that: (1) from 1986 through 1988, FAA received 2,610 reports of near-mid-air collisions, of which 1,158 involved commercial carriers; (2) FAA classified 834 of those commercial carrier incidents as serious; (3) most incidents occurred near major airports, while aircraft were under terminal radar approach control; (4) Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles had the highest number of incidents; (5) FAA actions to reduce collision risks included requiring additional equipment on planes, providing controllers with enhanced hardware and software, and designating special airspace at more airports; (6) FAA developed several long-term efforts to improve collection, analysis, and use of near-mid-air collision data, but inadequate financing, organizational changes, or further development needs have delayed their implementation; and (7) although FAA claimed difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of its risk reduction efforts, analysis of near-collision data before and after FAA actions indicated a decrease in near collisions.

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