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GAO discussed the need for re-regulation to ensure aviation safety. GAO found that: (1) Congress did not change the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) role in aviation safety when it deregulated the airline industry; (2) slow economic growth, fuel price increases, and the air traffic controllers' strike obscured the full effect of deregulation; (3) FAA statistics show that, although near-mid-air collisions and operational errors have increased, the overall accident rate for U.S. airlines is lower than for airlines in other countries; and (4) FAA has not kept its safety standards current or ensured that airlines followed the standards through its inspection program. GAO believes that FAA has the authority to respond to these problems and to improve aviation safety.

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