Aviation Safety: Research Supports Limited Use of Personal Computer Aviation Training Devices for Pilots

RCED-99-143 Published: Jul 12, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 1999.
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) decision to allow the use of personal computer-based aviation training devices (PCATD), focusing on: (1) the process and information FAA used in deciding to approve the use of personal computer devices for 10 hours of instrument training; and (2) what is known about the training effectiveness of these devices and their long-term impact on a pilot's ability to fly safely.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation As a first step toward determining whether computer-based devices pose safety risks to general aviation in relation to other training methods, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to collect information from pilot applications for instrument ratings on how many hours students trained on PCATDs and flight training devices. This information can be used by FAA and others to study the relationship between the use of training devices and safety. FAA's revision to its rating application form allows the additional information to be obtained at minimal cost.
Closed – Implemented
A new Form 8719-1 was published in April 2000. The form calls for pilots to distinguish between training hours completed in PCATDs and in Aviation Training Devices.

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