Air PollutionFAA's Reliance on Manufacturers for Jet Engine Emission Testing Gao ID: RCED-94-99 July 13, 1994
To ensure compliance with jet aircraft emission standards, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) relies on manufacturers to conduct and report on the results of jet engine emission tests. Also, FAA relies on its designees--engineers who are employed by the jet engine manufacturing companies--to ensure that the tests are properly conducted and accurately reported. Although FAA reviews and approves test plans and results, it seldom, if ever, observes the manufacturers conducting such tests. Acknowledging a potential for conflict of interest in the designee system, FAA and the manufacturers have taken several steps to buffer designees from pressures that could compromise their oversight role. For example, FAA appoints as designees manufacturer employees who have enough authority within the company to resist pressures to bypass FAA's requirements. Also, the manufacturers have aligned their organizational structure so that designees report to managers who are not directly responsible for designing and developing engines.
GAO found that: (1) FAA relies on aircraft manufacturers to perform emission testing and report the results; (2) FAA officials believe that there is little value in observing the tests conducted at the manufacturers' facilities, since compliance with emission standards is determined by sampling exhaust emissions; (3) FAA and the manufacturers acknowledge the potential for conflict of interest in the designee system and have taken steps to buffer designees from pressures that could compromise their oversight role; (4) FAA has a policy of appointing as designees manufacturer employees who have sufficient authority to bypass FAA requirements; and (5) manufacturers have aligned their organizational structure so that designees report to managers who are not directly responsible for designing and developing aircraft engines.