Aviation Safety:

FAA Action Plan for Chicago O'Hare International Airport

RCED-89-114: Published: Apr 19, 1989. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) action plan for addressing air traffic control problems at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, focusing on initiatives for: (1) staffing and training; and (2) replacing equipment for controller displays and the tower voice-switching system, and computer software for the terminal radar approach control system.

GAO found that FAA: (1) believed that the Department of Transportation and Office of Personnel Management plan to provide additional pay for personnel at understaffed facilities would increase stable employment of more experienced employees and work performance levels and reduce use of overtime; (2) temporarily rehired former O'Hare controllers to increase staffing; (3) identified several national recruitment measures for attracting more controllers to supplant its previous reliance on individual regions' recruiting; (4) authorized a 10-percent increase in O'Hare's staffing level for journeymen maintenance technicians; (5) lacked a pool of technician trainees as a continuous source for replacing retiring technicians; (6) planned to enhance contract instructor support for developmental training and expedite installation of simulator enhancements for short-term improvement of controller training; (7) believed that O'Hare's division of its radar room into smaller operational sectors would expedite training by reducing the number of positions for full-performance-level controller certification; (8) has experienced difficulties, due to National Airspace System Plan delays, in replacing equipment O'Hare needs to improve operations; and (9) initiated a program to monitor and control the number of aircraft arriving in Chicago airspace.

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