Aviation Safety:

Progress Limited With Self-Audit and Safety Violation Reporting Programs

RCED-92-85: Published: Mar 31, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1992.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

John H. Anderson, Jr
(202) 512-8024
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) airline participation in two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs aimed at improving airline safety; and (2) FAA program guidance and oversight.

GAO found that: (1) the Self-Audit Program (SAP) encourages airlines to voluntarily develop improved mechanisms to evaluate maintenance, flight operations, and security; (2) the Voluntary Disclosure Program encourages airlines to report safety problems with the promise of amnesty from fine or penalty if they take FAA-approved corrective actions; (3) FAA has had limited progress in implementing both programs; (4) of the 10 airlines reviewed, only 1 believed that it met, or plans to meet, SAP guidelines; (5) as of September 1991, voluntary disclosures were limited to 292 reports from 96 airlines, or about 3 percent of the 3,031 eligible to participate; (6) although airlines acknowledge that SAP could increase operational efficiency and provide incentives, they believe that the programs would only provide a marginal increase in safety and are concerned that any program benefits could be overshadowed by extra staff and other program implementation costs; (7) the airlines believe that they may incur revenue losses if FAA cannot protect them against voluntary disclosures of safety violations that may be released under the Freedom of Information Act; (8) written FAA program guidance was ambiguous and did not clearly answer basic, pertinent airline questions regarding procedural and structural changes; (9) FAA inspectors stated that program training did not adequately answer airline officials' questions; (10) FAA does not plan to monitor or approve airline self-audit programs and has not assigned sufficient staff to analyze voluntary disclosures and determine trends in safety problems; and (11) FAA officials stated that they have focused their resources on program advocacy rather than program implementation.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA established an enforcement focal point in its Field Program Division to address questions and problem areas. Such a focal point is basically a reactive rather than proactive problem solver.

    Recommendation: To improve program administration, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to shift FAA emphasis from program advocacy to program implementation by surveying FAA field offices to clarify inspector and airline questions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA issued voluntary disclosure procedures in January 1992 and Advisory Circular 120-59 on October 26, 1992.

    Recommendation: To improve program administration, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to shift FAA emphasis from program advocacy to program implementation by clarifying and finalizing written program guidance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA distributed two training courses to its inspectors in August 1992 and May 1993.

    Recommendation: To improve program administration, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to shift FAA emphasis from program advocacy to program implementation by providing additional inspector training.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA has developed a database that is being used to develop a newsletter for its field organizations and the airline industry. FAA did not, however, indicate that the database would be used to measure program effects on regulatory compliance.

    Recommendation: To improve program administration, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to shift FAA emphasis from program advocacy to program implementation by developing appropriate oversight information on participation in both programs and measures of program effects on compliance with safety regulations and FAA operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 20, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 19, 2016

Aug 12, 2016

Jul 29, 2016

Jul 28, 2016

Jul 13, 2016

Jul 11, 2016

Jun 13, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here