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GAO discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) fiscal year 1988 request for funds to: (1) award the Advanced Automation System (AAS) contract; and (2) continue the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (NY TRACON) expansion program. FAA plans to have AAS replace existing airport hardware, software, and air traffic controller workstations to: (1) increase controller productivity and system availability; (2) save fuel and passenger time; (3) automate many functions that controllers now perform; (4) reduce operating costs; and (5) enable consolidation of en route and terminal facilities. GAO found that the: (1) revised FAA acquisition strategy did not provide for adequate hardware and software performance information and testing or controller workstation testing; (2) FAA cost analysis may have relied too heavily on passenger time-savings benefits to the exclusion of other alternatives; and (3) FAA benefit/cost study did not validate AAS requirements. GAO noted that: (1) a final benefit/cost report, scheduled for completion by December 1987, should provide a better basis for evaluating the program; and (2) the AAS request for proposals, a terminal area computer capacity study, and a technical risk assessment should become available this year for congressional consideration regarding AAS appropriations. GAO also found that the FAA budget justification for NY TRACON did not fully explain the causes for schedule delays and cost increases.

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