Unnecessary Procurement of an Aviation Weather and Notice to Airmen System by the FAA

Gao ID: PSAD-79-94 August 8, 1979

The procurement of two Aviation Weather and Notice to Airmen Systems (AWANS) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cost about $6.3 million. AWANS is a computerized system designed to aid flight service station specialists in briefing pilots and filing flight plans. AWANS was developed because of the need to modernize the labor intensive and paper-oriented flight service station. According to FAA, AWANS demonstrates that a station can be automated and that a specialist using the system can improve the quality of pilot briefings.

However, AWANS has presented some problems. The operation at the Atlanta station, the test site, was not very reliable. From the beginning of AWANS operations, FAA experienced numerous problems with flight plan processing. FAA decided to buy the second AWANS even though the first prototype performed unsatisfactorily during a factory demonstration and continued to experience major deficiencies during the factory acceptance tests 1 year later. Since the installation of AWANS in Indianapolis, State and Federal officials have been concerned about pilot complaints regarding the long waits required to obtain a briefing or to file a flight plan. FAA was able to automate the functions of flight service stations, however, the time required for briefings increased and the reduction in manual functions was offset by an increase in the number of personnel needed to operate the computer system. Although there may have been a need to establish a consolidated facility to demonstrate AWANS feasibility, purchasing a second AWANS for this purpose after a demonstration that major problems still existed was unjustified. The acquisition of major systems by the Department is a critical function requiring proper consideration by the Secretary throughout the acquisition process.

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