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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) certification of commercial aircraft and its coordination with foreign aviation authorities, focusing on: (1) the benefits of common international certification standards and practices; (2) the development of such standards and practices; and (3) the relationships between authorities and manufacturers in the United States and Europe.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. To help ensure that the recent momentum in the harmonization effort results in the identification and resolution of regulatory differences and avoidance of duplication between FAA and JAA early in the aircraft certification process, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to monitor and annually report to the Secretary on the progress achieved relative to time frames established in the strategic plan and make programmatic changes as needed to ensure that the plan results in the resolution of regulatory differences.
Closed - Implemented
FAA plans to provide information on the progress of the harmonization plan in its fiscal year 1993 annual report. This report was signed by the FAA Administrator on March 8, 1994. As of August 1994, FAA and the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) had identified 77 key regulatory differences and resolved over 40 of them. FAA and JAA have also developed a strategic plan prioritizing these differences and establishing specific timeframes for resolution.
Department of Transportation 2. To help ensure that the recent momentum in the harmonization effort results in the identification and resolution of regulatory differences and avoidance of duplication between FAA and JAA early in the aircraft certification process, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop specific mechanisms, such as joint teams, to coordinate certification activities with JAA and prevent unnecessary duplication and late interpretational differences in certifying a transport airplane design.
Closed - Implemented
FAA and Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) developed concurrent, cooperative certification procedures in order to eliminate unnecessary duplication and establish a common certification basis at the outset of a program during the certification of the Boeing 777 in May 1995. These new certification procedures were also used in the certification of the Airbus 340. FAA and JAA are continuing their efforts to resolve industry concerns regarding the procedures. FAA and JAA meet each year to address these concerns and other harmonization activities. This effort is an ongoing, never-ending process.
Department of Transportation 3. When submitting the Department's proposal to Congress for rechartering the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC), the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to report on: (1) the results achieved through ARAC; (2) the problems encountered during its implementation; (3) FAA actions taken to overcome the problems; (4) effect of ARAC on FAA/JAA harmonization activities; and (5) the impact of ARAC on the FAA rulemaking process.
Closed - Not Implemented
FAA does not plan to take the recommended action. Rather, the Department of Transportation will evaluate ARAC's benefits to ensure that it provides necessary and effective input commensurate with costs incurred.

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