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Progress and Challenges in Responding to Key Provisions of the Airline Safety Act

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On March 20, 2012, the Inspector General testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) commercial airline safety oversight.  Specifically, the Inspector General focused on FAA’s implementation of the 2010 Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act, emphasizing:  (1) FAA’s progress in responding to provisions of the Act; (2) the challenges FAA faces in implementing certain provisions; and (3) concerns related to achieving the full measure of safety enhancements intended by the Act.  The Inspector General noted that FAA has made important progress related to key Act requirements, such as strengthening pilot rest requirements and advancing programs for managing safety risks.  However, FAA has yet to implement Act provisions related to pilot training, professional development, and qualifications, due in large part to industry concerns.  The Agency also faces challenges in establishing a pilot records database to enhance carriers' screening process for pilot applicants.  In addition, FAA needs to assist smaller carriers in developing and managing the safety programs called for in the Act to fully realize the benefits of increased safety reporting and trend analyses.