The U.S. commercial aviation industry has had an extraordinary safety record in recent years. However, expected increases in air-traffic--including the introduction of new vehicles into the national airspace, such as unmanned vehicles and very light jets--and human resource issues, present challenges that have the potential to strain the existing safety oversight system. GAO's testimony focuses on these questions: (1) How is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ensuring that the areas of highest safety risk are addressed? (2) How is FAA ensuring that its staff maintain the skills and knowledge to consistently carry out the agency's oversight programs? and (3) What are the key safety challenges facing FAA? This statement is based on our recent reports on FAA's inspection oversight programs, industry partnership programs, and enforcement and training programs. It is also based on interviews with FAA and relevant industry officials.
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