Aircraft Noise:

Status and Management of FAA's West Coast Plan

RCED-89-84: Published: May 8, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 2, 1989.

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Kenneth M. Mead
(202) 512-2834


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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) West Coast Plan and related environmental and management issues.

GAO found that: (1) FAA has completed 3 of the 10 West Coast Plan projects and plans to implement the other 7 by late 1994; (2) FAA estimates total plan costs at about $143 million; (3) a 1988 FAA environmental assessment of a proposed change to an airport departure procedure did not comply with regulations requiring FAA to discuss alternatives and involve the public in the assessment; (4) FAA stated that it would make its field personnel better aware of environmental considerations and would involve the public in future assessments; (5) several proposed West Coast Plan routes involve expanding existing civil air corridors into military airspace, and FAA and the Department of Defense (DOD) have reached agreement on some proposals, but have suspended work on others; (6) to facilitate progress in discussions with DOD, FAA ceased managing West Coast Plan projects as a coordinated group and began managing each project independently; and (7) the project management decentralization caused potential procurement redundancy, ineffective communication, and insufficient emphasis on project accomplishment to ensure timely completion.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA has: (1) undertaken a program to improve handling of environmental actions at both headquarters and regional office levels; and (2) filled a Special Projects Officer position in the Western-Pacific region to coordinate and integrate the West Coast Plan as well as other regional projects.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop a means to facilitate and evaluate regional office adherence to FAA Order 1050.1D, particularly in preparing environmental assessments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A National Airspace Capacity Staff was established to coordinate airspace changes nationwide.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to consider ways of ensuring coordination and integration of related airspace projects that are focused on a specific geographic part of the country or are carried out substantially by a single FAA regional office. In the case of the West Coast Plan, this might necessitate reestablishing the position of a West Coast Plan manager in the Western-Pacific region.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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