Meeting the Aviation Challenges of the 1990s:

Experts Define Key Problems and Identify Emerging Issues

RCED-91-152: Published: Jul 1, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 1, 1991.

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GAO reported on a conference it convened in November 1990, bringing together 23 leading aviation experts from Congress, the administration, the aviation industry, and academia, to discuss long-standing and emerging aviation issues, including: (1) the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) organization and management; (2) airspace management and air traffic control; (3) aviation safety; (4) airport capacity and security; and (5) airline competition and consumer protection.

GAO found that: (1) procurement and rulemaking delays have plagued FAA for years, causing major policy changes and untimely acquisitions and product developments; (2) some conferees believed that FAA should be an independent agency; (3) conferees advocated applying new technology to relieve air traffic congestion and urged FAA to explore new technological opportunities, such as satellite-based air traffic control systems, emerging from its long-term research and development programs; (4) the growing number of air travellers called for continued vigilance in regulating the safety of air operations; (5) conferees agreed that more should be done to enhance the public's perception of air traffic safety and security; (6) FAA and the Department of Transportation have increased aviation security measures in response to terrorist threats and legislative requirements; and (7) most conferees opposed reimposing regulation in response to decreased competition in the airline industry, since they believed that increasing international competition would mitigate some of the negative effects of mergers and reduced domestic competition.

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