Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) process for certifying designs of transport aircraft to meet safety standards, focusing on whether FAA staff are: (1) effectively involved in the certification process; and (2) competent in assessing the latest technologies.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||1. To ensure that FAA staff are effectively involved in the certification process and competent in new and complex technologies, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to define a minimum effective role for FAA in the certification process by identifying critical activities requiring the agency's involvement or oversight, establishing guidance on the necessary level and quality of the oversight of designated engineering representatives, and developing measures through which staff members' performance and, effectiveness can be evaluated.|
|Department of Transportation||2. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to: (1) formally examine the need to hire national resource specialists (NRS) in areas of technological advancement over the last 14 years; and (2) require NRS involvement early in the certification process and at other key junctures.|
|Department of Transportation||3. To ensure that FAA staff receive the technical training needed, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to establish specific training requirements for each certification discipline, ensure that each staff member meets those requirements, and keep the training as current as possible by identifying the training in new technologies that is available at universities, private industry, and other government agencies.|