Aviation Training:

FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors Are Not Receiving Needed Training

RCED-89-168: Published: Sep 14, 1989. Publicly Released: Oct 24, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) training of its aviation safety inspectors, focusing on whether: (1) operations inspectors received the recurrent flight training required to make pilot flight checks; (2) opportunities existed to more efficiently utilize the inspectors; and (3) airworthiness inspectors received the training they needed to perform maintenance inspections.

GAO found that: (1) although FAA required that operations inspectors receive flight training every 6 months, 495 of the 786 operations inspectors assigned to flight-check duties had not received the required training; (2) many unqualified inspectors continued to make flight inspections because FAA often waived the training requirement and assigned most of its operations inspectors to flight-check duties, regardless of the number of flight checks that each inspector performed; (3) because some inspectors made only a few flight checks each year, opportunities existed for FAA to assign fewer inspectors to flight-check duties and reduce the number of inspectors requiring training; (4) airworthiness inspectors received only half of the training that FAA had planned for them in 1988 because of the lack of qualified instructors and available courses; and (5) although FAA plans to upgrade and modernize its training system, further improvements are needed to effectively meet the training requirements as the inspector work force grows.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Using the GAO report as a basis, FAA staffed a headquarters office responsible for overseeing regional office training.

    Recommendation: To improve the aviation safety inspector training program, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to reevaluate the roles and responsibilities of the operations inspectors and identify the number of operations inspectors that are needed to conduct flight checks and provide these inspectors flight training.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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