Military Airlift:

Greater Use of Peacetime Airlift Cargo Capacity Would Reduce Costs

NSIAD-92-263: Published: Sep 16, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 1992.

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Mark E. Gebicke
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GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's (DOD) TP-4 program to use Air Force cargo aircraft to supply overseas training missions, focusing on the: (1) efficiency of the overseas airlift capacity; and (2) potential for improved efficiency.

GAO found that: (1) Air Force cargo aircraft routinely operate with underfilled cargo capacities, averaging 62 percent; (2) military air cargo terminals do not maintain adequate backlogs of lower priority cargo and inadequately utilize airlift cargo capacity; (3) the Air Force's Air Mobility Command uses an inaccurate cargo allocation formula that understates cargo capacity and reduces the amount of lower priority cargo used to fill departing aircraft; (4) strengthened terminal management in controlling cargo backlogs and priorities could reduce reliance on commercial airlifts while increasing timeliness; (5) improved use of airlift capacity could lower transportation costs by shifting costs away from commercial carriers; and (6) unused capacity levels total 43,000 tons annually and use of this space could save $21 million.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD action was delayed due to the change in administration. JCS concurrence and issuance of policy direction in May 1993 will, if implemented, achieve improved aircraft utilization at less cost.

    Recommendation: To better use available airlift capacity, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, to allocate the maximum amount of unused channel cargo space feasible to the military services and air terminals for TP-4 cargo. Air terminals should distinguish backlogs between high- and low-priority cargo and manage cargo flows and backlogs with the goal of optimally using available airlift space.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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