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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information about the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) progress in disseminating hazardous weather data from three new weather-related systems, focusing on: (1) FAA progress in preparing the necessary operational procedures for the Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR-9) weather channel and the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR); and (2) the status and availability of weather services FAA intended to provide through the Aeronautical Data Link.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. To ensure the consistent dissemination and use of new weather data available from ASR-9, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to: (1) establish time frames for issuing ASR-9 operational procedures; (2) convene a joint government/industry user group, similar to that used for TDWR, to resolve uncertainties regarding the use and dissemination of ASR-9 weather data; and (3) issue interim guidelines if significant ASR-9 implementation will occur before final procedures are developed.
Closed - Implemented
ASR-9 operational procedures are in place, according to FAA. FAA has initiated an interagency process to identify end-users' requirements. Since operational procedures are in effect, no interim procedures are needed. An accomplishment report had been drafted but not approved, as of September 1990.
Department of Transportation 2. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to evaluate, during subsequent operational tests of TDWR, the impact and efficiency of having controllers direct aircraft around microbursts. The agency could then resolve the policy question concerning the dissemination of microburst warnings and therefore implement the most effective operational procedures.
Closed - Not Implemented
FAA's Air Traffic organization does not believe adoption of this recommendation is feasible because the pilot in command is directly responsible for the safe operation of an aircraft, as specified in Federal Aviation Regulation 91.3. Air Traffic believes it is essential for this responsibility to continue to reside with the pilot because they are in the best position to assess all factors.

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