Aviation Safety:

Measuring How Safely Individual Airlines Operate

RCED-88-61: Published: Mar 18, 1988. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the feasibility of publishing indicators comparing airline safety records, focusing on the: (1) areas of operation important to airline safety; (2) availability and quality of data; and (3) ongoing research efforts to measure individual airline safety.

GAO found that: (1) the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) inspection data had the potential for objectively measuring and comparing individual airlines' pilot competence and maintenance quality; (2) FAA inspection data did not indicate airlines' compliance with federal regulations; (3) the FAA data on unsafe incidents was unreliable and of limited use for measuring individual airline safety; (4) the Department of Transportation (DOT) database on airline financial conditions could indicate airlines with a high probability of compliance problems; and (5) DOT has ongoing research for use in managing military charter operations. GAO believes that FAA should address current deficiencies in its inspection reports to improve its potential for use in measuring airline safety and pilot competence.

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