Aviation Safety:

FAA Has Improved Its Removal Procedures for Pilot Examiners

RCED-89-199: Published: Sep 8, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 25, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) procedures for removing pilot examiners who did not satisfactorily carry out their responsibilities.

GAO found that FAA: (1) lacked adequate guidance for the examiner removal process; (2) cited particular difficulty in removing examiners who chose to challenge the removal decision, resulting in district offices' reluctance to remove problem examiners; and (3) lacked adequate procedures to protect examiners' rights to due process during the removal process, resulting in court rulings that it failed to present specific detailed charges, provide timely notice of the charges, or provide an adequate hearing. GAO also found that the more specific and comprehensive examiner removal procedures FAA issued in June 1989: (1) required district offices to provide examiners with written notices specifying the reasons for proposed removal, an opportunity to respond in writing or in person, a written record of any meeting, and a written decision; (2) afforded examiners the opportunity to have the regional office review a district office removal decision and to appeal the removal action to the U.S. Court of Appeals; (3) allowed FAA to immediately suspend examiners in cases involving fraud or safety-related emergencies; and (4) instructed regional offices to ensure that district offices identified and removed examiners who were not performing satisfactorily.