Skip to Highlights
Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the safety performance of new airlines having 5 or fewer years of operating experience, focusing on: (1) the frequency with which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspects new airlines compared with its inspections of established airlines; and (2) FAA efforts to correct long-standing problems that limit the effectiveness of its safety inspection program.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should instruct the Administrator, FAA, to closely monitor the performance of new airlines, particularly during the early years of operations, and conduct increased and/or comprehensive inspections of those new airlines that experience elevated rates of safety-related problems.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

FAA has staffed its national certification team under Order 1100.159 (February 1997), and has been using it to assist district offices in reviewing new air carriers during their initial certification and first year of operation. Under Phase I of its new initiative, the Air Transportation Oversight System (ATOS), FAA will develop and periodically update customized comprehensive inspection regimes for newly certified carriers, as well as for the ten largest carriers.
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should instruct the Administrator, FAA, to evaluate the impact of recent budget reductions on FAA critical safety-related functions, including, but not limited to, inspector training, and report the results to Congress through the appropriations process.
Closed - Not Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Not Implemented.

The Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 will assist FAA in overcoming staffing problems attributable to funding shortfalls. The act provides funds to hire and train additional safety inspectors, increase the number of support staff, and implement an improved approach to new entrant airline certification, along with an improved data system.
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should instruct the Administrator, FAA, to study the feasibility of developing measurable criteria for what constitutes aviation safety, including those airline-specific safety-related performance measures that could be published for use by the traveling public.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

FAA contracted with a consultant to develop initial options and recommendations concerning the best means to educate the public and make available information about commercial aviation safety. Based on the consultant's report, FAA announced steps in January 1997 to make aviation data more available to the public. FAA began posting some information on an Internet web site in the spring of 1997. However, FAA's actions fall short of achieving the recommendation's intent. FAA has not developed measurable criteria for defining aviation safety, including airline-specific performance measures that could be used by the travelling public. The information FAA has posted on its website is also limited in its coverage, and some have questioned how easy it is for the public to use and interpret those data.
Department of Transportation To ensure the timely and effective implementation of the recommendations included in the FAA 90-Day Safety Review, the Secretary of Transportation should require the Administrator, FAA, to establish: (1) clear goals and objectives addressing the safety review's identified problem areas; (2) measurable performance criteria to assess how the goals and objectives are being met; and (3) a monitoring, evaluation, and reporting system so that FAA implementation of the recommendations contained in the FAA 90-Day Safety Review can be reported to the Secretary and Congress on a regular basis.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

FAA has taken steps to provide oversight to the implementation of the 90-Day Safety Review's recommendations. It created an implementation plan that outlines the objectives for each of the 37 major and supporting recommendations, and provides milestones and points of contact for each. The plan also links those recommendations to ones made by other important FAA safety studies.
Federal Aviation Administration The Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board, and the Administrator, FAA, should establish a date for completing the ongoing reevaluation of the definition of accident.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

NTSB published its final accident classification system in the Federal Register in February 1997.
National Transportation Safety Board The Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board, and the Administrator, FAA, should establish a date for completing the ongoing reevaluation of the definition of accident.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

NTSB published its final accident classification system in the Federal Register in February 1997.

Full Report