Audit Reports

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FAA Needs To Implement More Efficient Performance-Based Navigation Procedures and Clarify the Role of Third Parties

Project ID: 

On December 10, we issued our report on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) oversight of new flight procedures using Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and its use of third parties to develop them.  These technologies are key building blocks for the Next Generation Air Transportation System and could provide shorter, more direct flight paths; improved airport arrival rates; enhanced controller productivity; fuel savings; and reduced aircraft noise.  We conducted this review at the request of the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, who stated that a clear understanding of third-party roles is needed before they can be expanded.  Overall, we found that the role of the two third parties FAA has approved to develop RNP procedures remains unclear, as well as FAA's strategy for implementing timely, high-value routes using in-house resources.  FAA has also not fully established an oversight program for third parties, defined the staffing levels needed to oversee them, or finalized key guidance to industry on qualifications to become a third-party developer.  We made eight recommendations to help FAA effectively implement and coordinate RNAV/RNP procedures and establish an oversight program for third parties.  Overall, FAA's response met the intent of most of our recommendations; however, we have requested that FAA provide additional clarifying information for three of them.




Closed on 11.29.2012
No. 1 to FAA

Assess its in-house skill mix to determine whether the Agency has the expertise needed to design and deliver more efficient, value-added RNP procedures in a timely manner.

Closed on 10.14.2016
No. 2 to FAA

Cleary define the role of third parties in developing and implementing RNP procedures, determine where third parties could play a cost-beneficial role in advancing the implementation of new procedures, and issue a report with the results of this evaluation.

Closed on 11.29.2012
No. 3 to FAA

Design an oversight strategy for third parties once the Agency clarifies their role in RNP design and implementation.

Closed on 07.28.2015
No. 4 to FAA

Performing cost-benefit analysis in close coordination with stakeholders before and after implementing RNP procedures. Aligning Flight plan goals with producing beneficial RNP procedures that have significant benefits rather than focusing on the number of procedures.

Closed on 10.31.2011
No. 5 to FAA

Resolving the Air Traffic Organization's concerns with the draft guidance that authorizes third parties to develop instrument flight procedures. Evaluating and clarifying the 2008 Memorandum of Agreement between the Flight Standards Service and the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service regarding oversight roles and responsibilities between these FAA offices to ensure that oversight functions are properly coordinated for all instrument flight procedures and enforcement actions are handled consistently. Establishing a procedure for Flight Standards to coordinate with the RNAV/RNP program office on any request from industry to develop special RNP procedures that have national implications to ensure that these procedures do not conflict with procedures that already exist or are being created.