FAA's Airline Inspection Program

Gao ID: 129875 May 14, 1986

GAO discussed the adequacy of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) airline inspection program to ensure airline safety to assess: (1) the program's effectiveness; (2) FAA actions to improve it; and (3) airline compliance with the program. GAO noted that FAA has not responded effectively to the changes deregulation has caused in the airline industry because it: (1) needs more inspectors but is not prepared to absorb an increase in its work force or to provide the needed internal management controls, inspector training and experience, regulations and guidance, and supervisory and managerial oversight; and (2) lacks an effective plan for dealing with its short-term problem of ensuring airline compliance with safety regulations. GAO found that FAA should: (1) revise its flight standards program guidelines to help inspectors target airlines displaying characteristics that indicate safety deficiencies; (2) improve its allocation of the inspector work force; (3) ensure that inspectors have the training and experience necessary to carry out their assigned duties; and (4) sequence its actions to improve its inspection program so that the improvements are in place when they can do the most good.

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