GAO discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) new ground radar Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE-3), focusing on: (1) delays associated with its installation; (2) the significance of problems uncovered during recent testing; and (3) the status of the FAA Runway Incursion Plan for enhancing ground safety at airports. GAO noted that: (1) the ASDE-3 deployment schedule has slipped almost 4 years and could slip even further due to software problems, changing requirements, and unforseen performance problems; (2) in spite of its split-target problems, ASDE-3 performance during heavy rain or fog is superior to the old system; (3) further delays in FAA deployment of ASDE-3 could occur, since some airports are not prepared to accept ASDE-3; (4) the new FAA approach to selecting airports for ASDE-3 installation does not consider historical information on runway incursions; (5) FAA failed to assign priorities to or estimate costs of the 44 Runway Incursion Plan projects; (6) although ASDE-3 is part of the FAA plan, it is not affected by FAA priority problems because it is under a production contract; and (7) FAA failure to set program priorities and funding levels could result in untimely completion of other projects, the dilution of available funds, and failure to give urgent problems the appropriate attention.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||1. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to factor into the FAA approach for locating ASDE-3 the experience of airports regarding the incidence of runway incursions, including the severity of the incursions.|
|Department of Transportation||2. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to establish priorities and set funding levels for the 44 projects in the agency's overall Runway Incursion Plan.|