Observations on H.R. 3774, 'The Aging Aircraft Safety Act of 1989'

T-RCED-90-82: Published: May 23, 1990. Publicly Released: May 23, 1990.

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GAO discussed the Aging Aircraft Safety Act of 1989, intended to reduce the safety risk of older aircraft and raise the public's confidence in the safety of the U.S. air transport fleet. GAO found that: (1) the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) needed an overall plan for coordinating activities in the aging aircraft area; and (2) the legislation would require that, within one year of reaching a predetermined age based on usage or the passage of time, each aircraft in the U.S. fleet be removed from service for an FAA review of the aircraft's maintenance documentation, an on-site inspection of the aircraft, and a demonstration to FAA that maintenance was sufficient to ensure the highest degree of safety. GAO noted that several obstacles could handicap the successful implementation of the legislation because: (1) an integration of the bill's requirements with other recent regulations would require additional maintenance of the aging fleet; (2) FAA should target a sample of the fleet for inspection, and inspect a random sample of the fleet; (3) FAA will need to work closely with the industry in developing mechanisms to enable it to stretch its resources over a broader area and to target high-risk conditions; and (4) the legislation's goals can be achieved without unduly affecting flight schedules, airfares, or necessary routine fleet maintenance.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Committee did not incorporate these requirements when reporting out H.R. 3774.

    Matter: The House Committee on Public Works and Transportation may wish to consider adding to Section 2(6) of H.R. 3774 the requirements that FAA track maintenance status and other information using a tail or serial number-based system and thus provide a basis for choosing which aircraft to inspect first.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Committee did not incorporate these requirements when reporting out H.R. 3774.

    Matter: The House Committee on Public Works and Transportation may wish to consider adding to Section 2(6) of H.R. 3774 the requirements that FAA establish a plan for working with operators and manufacturers for the purposes of augmenting FAA staff resources and scheduling aircraft through the inspection process.

 

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