Aviation Safety:

FAA Has Begun Efforts to Make Data More Publicly Available

RCED-97-137: Published: Apr 25, 1997. Publicly Released: May 27, 1997.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) what actions the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken to make aviation safety information more available to the public; (2) what the public demand has been for FAA's aviation safety information; (3) FAA's plans to expand the aviation safety information available to the public; and (4) FAA's progress in making safety information available to the public.

GAO noted that: (1) FAA took a number of actions to provide aviation safety-related information to the public beginning in July 1996; (2) FAA formed a working group of senior-level agency officials and adopted a strategy of providing aviation safety information to the public through a three-part effort: (a) establishing an aviation safety information web site linked to the FAA's Internet web site; (b) publicizing significant enforcement actions; and (c) undertaking a public education campaign on aviation safety; (3) as of April 10, 1997, FAA has included four databases on its aviation safety Internet web site; (4) those databases include information on aviation accidents, other safety-related incidents, traffic data (e.g., departures made) reported by large commercial air carriers, which can be used to calculate comparative accident or incident rates, and the safety recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board to FAA; (5) since FAA first made its aviation safety site on the Internet available to the public, it has seen an approximate fourfold increase in the number of users who have accessed the web site each week; (6) usage has increased during those weeks when a public announcement related to the site has been made; (7) in addition, FAA's data indicate that users are spending more time using the site; (8) it is too soon, however, to tell if these trends will continue; (9) FAA plans to expand the number of databases that it posts on its aviation safety web site throughout the rest of 1997; and (10) it expects to incorporate information on the airlines' composition (i.e., the make, models, and ages of aircraft in each airline's fleet) and other indicators of aviation safety (e.g., data on near mid-air collisions).

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