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GAO reviewed issues regarding aging aircraft, focusing on: (1) the status of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aviation industry actions to respond to the problem of aging aircraft; and (2) FAA opportunities to more actively deal with emerging aircraft maintenance problems. GAO found that FAA and the aviation industry have taken many actions in response to the recommendations of a 1988 international conference on aging aircraft, but FAA should develop a unified plan to enhance coordination and oversight and should report periodically to Congress on the progress toward accomplishing the plan's goals. GAO also found that FAA could enhance air safety by: (1) achieving more hands-on aircraft inspection to supplement its paperwork review of maintenance records; (2) effectively utilizing its service difficulty reporting database to develop airworthiness directives, identify industry repair trends, and allocate inspection resources; and (3) dealing with the emerging problem of capacity shortage in the aircraft repair industry.

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