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FAA Oversight of Passenger Aircraft Maintenance

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Assistant Inspector General for Auditing Alexis M. Stefani testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee on FAA’s oversight of passenger aircraft maintenance. Ms. Stefani stated that while FAA’s new Air Transportation Oversight System (ATOS) for monitoring air carriers is conceptually sound, it is still not reaching its full potential at the original 10 major carriers and has not been expanded to the remaining 129 passenger air carriers. FAA has had a long-standing requirement for carriers to monitor their own maintenance, but when doing oversight has placed limited emphasis on this area, known as Continuing Analysis and Surveillance Systems (CASS). Part of ATOS, CASS is the system air carriers use to monitor the effectiveness of their aircraft maintenance and inspection programs. As a result, weaknesses have gone undetected in air carrier maintenance systems.

To make progress on long-standing problems limiting FAA’s ability to improve its oversight, we recommended in our audit report released on April 8 that FAA:

1. finish developing key elements of ATOS, specifically, its processes for analyzing ATOS inspection results and ensuring that corrective actions are implemented for weaknesses found in air carrier maintenance and operations systems;

2. better prepare its inspectors to carry out ATOS by improving inspector training and locating qualified inspectors where they are most needed;

3. establish strong national oversight and accountability to ensure consistent ATOS field implementation.