Department of Defense Oversight of Airlines With Military Contracts

Gao ID: 130238 June 26, 1986

GAO testified on two bills that would establish certain safety inspection requirements for airlines with military contracts by increasing the Department of Defense's (DOD) responsibility for ensuring compliance with federal safety regulations. GAO noted that airlines with military contracts had nearly twice as many serious deficiencies as did those without military contracts and 90 percent had serious deficiency rates higher than the median for all airlines. GAO also noted that, although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has insufficiently identified major aviation problems in the past, it has recently increased its work force, issued staffing standards and national guidelines, affirmed that inspections are the top priority for inspectors, and assembled teams to inspect targeted airlines. GAO found that FAA: (1) will need several years to completely develop its internal management controls, inspector training and experience, regulations and guidance, and supervisory and managerial oversight; (2) is better equipped to conduct the inspections than DOD, which lacks the experience and expertise to inspect airlines' compliance with safety regulations; and (3) should increase and improve inspections of airlines with military contracts.

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