Audit Reports

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New Approaches Are Needed to Strengthen FAA Oversight of Air Carrier Training Programs and Pilot Performance

Requested by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Representatives Louise Slaughter and Brian Higgins
Project ID: 

On December 20, 2011, we issued a report on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) oversight of air carrier training programs and pilot performance.  We found that FAA’s oversight of air carriers’ pilot training and proficiency programs lacks the rigor needed to identify and track poor performing pilots and address potential program risks.  FAA has not sufficiently trained inspectors on how to evaluate air carriers’ basic training assessments.  In addition, FAA does not provide sufficient oversight of check airmen—who perform the majority of proficiency checks on air carrier pilots.  We also found that FAA maintains extensive pilot information that air carriers can use to evaluate the competence and qualifications of pilots; however, its current request process hinders air carriers’ ability to easily obtain all relevant data.  We made seven recommendations to FAA to improve its oversight.  FAA concurred or partially concurred with each of our recommendations.  However, FAA’s responses did not meet the intent of four of our recommendations, and we are requesting additional information before resolving them. In particular, we request further justification regarding FAA's response on the adequacy of inspector oversight of check airmen.




Closed on 05.17.2016
No. 1 to FAA

Require inspectors to select a representative sample of air carrier proficiency and line check rides each year to analyze the results for trends, and take action if needed in accordance with FAA guidance.

Closed on 05.17.2016
No. 2 to FAA

Renew authority of check airmen every 2 years to increase accountability in the system and improve consistency in the manner in which flight checks are conducted and rated.

Closed on 11.28.2022
No. 3 to FAA

Develop a standardized procedure for air carriers to report failures of pilot proficiency checks, as well as remedial and recurrent flight training to FAA, and require inspectors to monitor trends and target surveillance to highest risk areas.

Closed on 03.31.2016
No. 4 to FAA

Develop and implement standardized training for aviation safety inspectors on Part 121 air carrier pilot performance and administration of check rides and check airman observations.

Closed on 03.31.2016
No. 5 to FAA

Conduct a study of air carrier policies to determine whether controls should be in place to prevent pilots in remedial training programs from being paired together.

Closed on 12.20.2011
No. 6 to FAA

Require inspectors at the certificate level to be fully trained on AQP before approving and overseeing these programs. Ensure that FAA's Voluntary Safety Program Branch (AFS 230) has adequate resources for overseeing AQP.

Closed on 04.02.2012
No. 7 to FAA

While developing the Pilot Records Database, verify that staff in the offices of Airmen Certification and Aviation Data Systems can continue to manage the increased workload caused by enhanced records requirements.