Aviation Safety

Published: Jul 21, 1986. Publicly Released: Jul 21, 1986.

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GAO discussed the current condition of U.S. aviation safety. GAO found that FAA should: (1) revise its nationwide minimum standards for the type and frequency of airline inspections to help inspectors target airlines with possible safety deficiencies, such as large amounts of contract maintenance or training, inadequate internal management controls, and management experience that is incompatible with sound safety practices; (2) better identify who inspects which airlines and how frequently; (3) ensure that inspectors have the proper training and experience; and (4) ensure that it completes improvements to its inspection program before it hires new inspectors. GAO also found that: (1) FAA has not responded effectively to changes brought about by deregulation; (2) the FAA National Airspace System plan will not be operational until the mid-1990's; (3) FAA cannot accurately estimate its budget needs to provide the best level of air traffic control and surveillance over airline compliance with safety regulations; and (4) FAA needs additional air traffic controllers and commercial aviation safety inspectors. GAO believes that Congress should ensure that the airspace systems work before FAA buys them.