Ice formation on aircraft can disrupt the smooth flow of air over the wings and prevent the aircraft from taking off or decrease the pilot's ability to maintain control of the aircraft. Takeoff and landing operations can also be risky in winter weather. Despite persistent efforts by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and others to mitigate icing risks, icing remains a serious concern. GAO reviewed (1) the extent to which commercial airplanes have experienced accidents and incidents related to icing, (2) FAA's inspection and enforcement activities related to icing, (3) the efforts of FAA and others to improve safety in winter weather, and (4) the challenges that continue to affect aviation safety in winter weather. GAO analyzed data obtained from FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and others. Further, GAO obtained information from FAA and NTSB officials and representatives of key aviation industry stakeholders.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||1. To help facilitate FAA's and other stakeholders' efforts to address challenges to improving safety in icing and winter weather conditions, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop a comprehensive plan, in consultation with public and private stakeholders, to guide these efforts. The plan should focus on winter operations holistically, be clearly communicated to all affected parties, and include detailed goals, milestones, and time frames that can be used to gauge performance and progress, identify gaps, and determine areas for improvement. FAA should also periodically report to affected parties on its progress in implementing the plan, as well as any updates to the plan.|