Air Safety:

FAA's Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System

RCED-88-66BR: Published: Feb 11, 1988. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) proposed Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), focusing on its: (1) safety benefits; (2) commercial prospects; and (3) development plans.

GAO found that FAA: (1) designed TCAS to reduce the risk of mid-air collisions by providing pilots with an independent airborne backup to the FAA ground-based air traffic control system; (2) has three models which vary in cost, technical sophistication, and capacity, with TCAS III having the most risk-reduction capability; and (3) designed TCAS II to permit an easy, low-cost upgrade to TCAS III capability. GAO also found that FAA: (1) proposed legislation requiring installation of TCAS I in all jets with 10 to 19 passenger seats and installation of TCAS II and III in larger commercial aircraft; (2) did not conduct a safety study for TCAS I; (3) is currently performing safety studies of TCAS III after determining that TCAS II reduces the risk of near mid-air collisions by 58 percent; (4) believes that the avionics equipment manufacturing industry is capable of manufacturing TCAS equipment, but may not be able to meet the legislatively mandated deadline; and (5) is currently testing the operational capacity of TCAS II and III.