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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) implementation of its Expanded East Coast Plan, focusing on: (1) agencies' responsibilities for assessing the environmental impact of revising air routes and flight procedures; (2) the plan's effects on noise and air routes; (3) how FAA measured aircraft noise; (4) reasons why FAA did not perform an environmental assessment of the plan; and (5) actions FAA took in response to citizens' complaints regarding increased aircraft noise.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to improve the information base available on which to assess the merits of the Expanded East Coast Plan and other such major airspace changes by: (1) preparing an environmental assessment of the effects of the plan and, if significant impacts from the plan are found, preparing an environmental impact statement; (2) making a qualitative determination of which portions of the reduced delays are due to the plan and which are due to other factors; and (3) preparing an environmental assessment of any major proposal for making widespread air route or flight procedure changes on the West Coast or in other areas of the country where delays and congestion warrant such changes.
Closed - Implemented
The Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1990 stipulated that FAA shall: (1) issue an environmental impact statement; and (2) conduct an investigation to determine the effects on air safety of changes in flight patterns over New Jersey.

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