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Highlights

GAO discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Research, Engineering, and Development (RE&D) Program, focusing on FAA progress in: (1) responding to the Aviation Safety Research Act of 1988; (2) conducting long-term research; and (3) developing a RE&D plan. GAO noted that: (1) as mandated by the act, FAA has expanded research in aircraft structures, human factors, and simulation modeling of the air traffic control system, and has developed a draft RE&D plan; (2) FAA has not included resource estimates for future research efforts or delineated specific long-term projects as the act required; (3) in 1989 and 1990, FAA met the congressional requirement that it allocate at least 15 percent of its RE&D funds to long-term research and estimated that 41 percent of fiscal year 1991 obligations were for long-term research; and (4) it was difficult for FAA to estimate its total RE&D efforts, since it did not track the amount of long-term research underway in its program and some research was funded by other sources. GAO also noted that FAA ability to achieve RE&D goals will depend on its success in: (1) incorporating RE&D goals into other programs; (2) utilizing research conducted by other federal agencies and private organizations; (3) integrating various technologies to address existing and future capacity, security, and safety concerns; and (4) incorporating human factors into all research.

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