Aviation Safety Hazards

Gao ID: 121320 August 5, 1982

Testimony was given concerning a followup review of the recommendations in a 1980 GAO report on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) ability to deal with aircraft safety hazards. The report had specified that FAA needed: (1) effective systems for identifying safety hazards; (2) a comprehensive planning process to address aviation safety hazards; (3) an adequate system for preparing, reviewing, and approving individual program plans; (4) an adequate system of controls to govern the implementation phase of safety projects; and (5) sufficient evaluation of safety programs and projects. During the followup review, GAO found that, although FAA has taken and is planning to take actions that should help it deal more effectively with safety hazards, it needs to do more. FAA has initiated a design for a computer-based safety information system which will link its databases with those of Government agency and private industry databases. The design specification for the system is currently being reviewed by FAA and implementation is targeted for December 1984. FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have been working together on the issue of the collection of accident/incident information. FAA has also established a task force to study human factors which contribute to aircraft safety hazards and is analyzing the information obtained by the task force to select items for further research. FAA has begun the process of comprehensive planning for addressing aviation safety issues; however, it saw no need for the top management safety analysis group which GAO suggested. GAO also found that no evaluations of safety activities have been performed since the issuance of the 1980 report. Finally, GAO found that much of the criticism which FAA has recently received because of its failure to find solutions to problems in aircraft cabin fire safety have been justified. Completion dates for projects in this area have been extended and some of its research results are of questionable value. GAO strongly endorsed the establishment of an agencywide major system acquisition management process by FAA, and it continued to believe that there is a need for the establishment of an agencywide system for dealing with major safety hazards like the one established for major system acquisitions.

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