Aviation Research

Information on Funding, Staffing, and Timing of FAA's Research Projects Gao ID: RCED-92-108FS February 28, 1992

Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is spending billions to modernize the air traffic control system, accommodating increased air travel and maintaining air safety continue to pose long-term challenges. To help FAA meet these challenges, recent legislation requires the agency to allocate at least 15 percent of its Research, Engineering, and Development Program funding to long-term research for fiscal years 1989 and 1990. In light of congressional oversight of FAA's fiscal year 1993 budget request, GAO studied the agency's research programs. This fact sheet provides information on project funding, staffing, and scheduling data for fiscal years 1988-91. GAO summarized this report in testimony before Congress; see: Aviation Research: Progress Has Been Made but Several Factors Will Affect Program Success, by Kenneth M. Mead, Director of Transportation Issues, before the Subcommittee on Technology and Competitiveness, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. GAO/T-RCED-92-39, Mar. 10, 1992 (14 pages).

GAO found that: (1) congressional appropriations for the FAA Research, Engineering, and Development (RE&D) Program have grown from $153 million in FY 1988 to $205 million for FY 1991; (2) projects related to capacity and air traffic management account for 40 percent of the FY 1991 RE&D obligations; (3) in response to recent incidents, FAA has expanded research regarding aviation security, aviation safety, and human factors and medicine; (4) total authorized staffing for the projects has increased by 3 percent, with significant increases in innovative and cooperative research project staffing, and staffing decreases in projects relating to weather, communications, navigation, and surveillance; and (5) FAA has completed half of the 140 projects for which GAO collected data, and about 40 percent of the 70 active projects were scheduled to be completed within 5 to 7 years.

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