Two federal watchdogs told a congressional panel on April 25 that the FAA has improved its ability to collect aviation safety data, but lacks the analysis needed to enhance the safety of air traffic operations.
“The FAA is taking important steps to improve safety, such as implementing voluntary safety reporting for controllers, but the agency has not yet realized the full benefits of these efforts,” said Jeffrey Guzzetti, assistant DOT inspector general for aviation, in his testimony before the House of Representatives Aviation Subcommittee.
The FAA needs to ensure that the data are accurate, comprehensive and effectively analyzed, said Guzzetti, so that it can better identify baselines and safety trends. He said the FAA must also strengthen and make better use of its risk-based approach for oversight, to ensure that its limited inspector workforce is deployed where it is most needed.
Dr. Gerald Dillingham, director of physical infrastructure issues for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), told the subcommittee that the FAA does not have a process to track or assess runway excursions.
The GAO previously had recommended that the FAA develop and implement plans to track and assess runway excursions, which it said can be as dangerous as runway incursions. But the GAO said it will be several years before the FAA has obtained enough detailed information about these incidents to assess risks. Read the GAO’s October 2011 recommendation that FAA explore fresh options to manage safety data.