FAA Gets Another Reality Check on ATC Modernization

 - January 17, 2007, 4:23 AM

The latest Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on FAA efforts to modernize the ATC system restates that the agency continues to miss cost, schedule and performance targets. Human capital management challenges include “hiring and training thousands of air traffic controllers to replace those expected to retire over the next decade and creating a results-oriented culture.” The FAA has developed a controller staffing plan, “but has not estimated its cost, and therefore, cannot determine its impact on future budgets.” To manage costs, the FAA is using a new cost-accounting system and emphasizing accountability. However, in view of current and anticipated funding reductions, the agency “has eliminated initial research and development funding for new technologies that could support the next-generation air transportation system.” According to the GAO, some stakeholders and FAA officials are discussing “potential changes to FAA’s funding mechanism,” including suggestions for general aviation user fees.