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