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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) emergency evacuation requirements for transport aircraft, focusing on: (1) FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) efforts in developing improved aircraft evacuation timeliness and safety standards; and (2) the impact of a proposed reduction of the emergency evacuation standard on aircraft design. GAO found that: (1) in 1991, FAA established ARAC and its subcommittees to develop new safety performance standards for emergency evacuations and to minimize injuries during emergency evacuation demonstrations; (2) in developing new safety performance standards, FAA needed to evaluate current safety standards to determine whether current evacuation regulations were inconsistently applied, more restrictive than necessary, and inhibiting innovative technology design; (3) to minimize injuries during evacuation demonstrations, FAA needs to determine whether or not full-scale evacuation demonstrations are too restrictive, aircraft which have not previously been tested should be tested, the nature of full-scale demonstrations can cause injuries, test conditions need to be revised to minimize injury potential, and to limit test subject exposure by considering alternative means of obtaining the necessary data; and (4) to reduce the demonstration evacuation time to 60 seconds, aircraft would have to require more or larger passenger exits and reduce passenger capacity.

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