The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operates one of the safest air transportation systems in the world. It is, however, a system under strain. The skies are becoming more crowded every day, with an estimated 1 billion passengers per year expected by 2015. The current aviation system cannot be expanded to meet this growth. The reauthorization of FAA is an opportunity to examine how the agency is managing the operation and safety of the air transportation system as it leads the transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)--a major redesign of the current system. GAO's testimony focuses on key issues related to FAA's reauthorization, including (1) FAA's progress in implementing initiatives that could provide a solid foundation for NextGen, (2) issues that need to be addressed to help ensure a successful transition to NextGen, and (3) safety areas that are important for the continued safe operation of the current and future system. This statement is based on recent GAO reports and ongoing work on some management and safety initiatives.
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