Enhancing aviation and surface safety remains the top priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation, concluded the department’s Inspector General in a recent report of the agency’s top management challenges. The IG acknowledges, however, that while the DOT has made progress on safety, “it is faced with challenges to fine-tune how it collects, verifies and uses safety data, and to bolster its industry oversight with respect to aircraft maintenance, inspector resources and pilot performance and training.” It also raised similar concerns about data collection and analysis at the FAA.
The IG believes that the DOT has moved in the right direction by “meeting new airline safety requirements to advance voluntary safety programs at air carriers and improve pilot rest requirements,” but believes the department has not done enough “to maximize [the use of] existing data to identify trends and root causes of safety issues, enhance risk-based oversight at carriers and repair stations and mitigate air traffic controller fatigue.”
Another concern yet to be addressed is how to mitigate the rising number of operational errors made by air traffic controllers. The IG said while the total number of operational errors has remained at 2009-2010 levels, the most serious mistakes have continued to rise in number.