GAO Reports on FAA Certification and Foreign Approval of Aviation Products

 - January 25, 2015, 6:23 AM

The FAA is making progress on 14 different initiatives to address a half dozen certification process problems, but has so far completed only 10 of them. The outcome of the remainder is unclear, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluation issued on January 21. The study, required by the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, evaluates the FAA’s certification processes for new aviation products, examining the consistency of the agency’s regulatory interpretations and the time required for other countries to certify those products.

Six FAA recommendations focused on regulatory consistency have also made some progress toward completion, though one was eventually dropped, while another was noted as already implemented in 2013 and the final four scheduled for completion by July next year. Overall, the GAO said, it is too soon to determine whether the FAA’s planned actions will carry enough momentum to address all the recommendations adequately.

When it came to evaluating the FAA’s value to private companies attempting foreign certification of products, the 15 U.S. companies interviewed criticized agency delays in the facilitation process itself, the limited availability of FAA staff personnel to support the foreign application process and the agency’s lack of expertise on some specific approval issues. The GAO also highlighted the lack of specificity and flexibility in some of the FAA’s bilateral safety agreements, poor overall communications with foreign civil aviation authorities and the large fees required by those governments.