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Audit Reports


FAA Faces Significant Obstacles in Advancing the Implementation and Use of Performance-Based Navigation Procedures

Requested By
Requested by the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Aviation
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To enhance capacity and reduce delays at our Nation’s congested airports, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is implementing Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) flight procedures, which can potentially provide significant near-term benefits such as improved on-time aircraft arrival rates and greater fuel savings. However, airline representatives have expressed concerns with the lengthy process for developing and implementing new PBN flight procedures. In 2010, FAA’s NAV Lean Project established 21 recommendations to streamline FAA’s policies and processes for new procedures.

FAA has deployed PBN procedures and has key projects under way, including adding new procedures at 13 major metropolitan areas. However, use of high-value procedures remains low, particularly at busy airports such as those in the New York City area. Several obstacles hinder FAA’s efforts to increase implementation and use of PBN procedures, including outdated controller policies, the lack of standard training for pilots and controllers, and the lack of automated controller tools. In addition, the NAV Lean Project has not met stakeholder demand for improved flight procedure development processes. FAA has completed 9 of the 21 NAV Lean recommendations and is making progress on the remaining ones. However, some of the most complex recommendations remain, and industry will not get NAV Lean’s full benefits until FAA implements all recommendations, currently planned for September 2015.

We made three recommendations to help FAA mitigate barriers to PBN implementation and expedite the development of new procedures.


Closed on
No. 1 to FAA
Complete an action plan to address the Agency's report on Obstacles to Performance Based Navigation Implementation" and develop milestones for when these solutions can be implemented."
Closed on
No. 2 to FAA
Establish firm requirements and schedules for all NAV Lean initiatives that will provide a basis and justification for future funding requests.
Closed on
No. 3 to FAA
Establish a process to measure the benefits of the NAV Lean initiatives on an ongoing basis to determine whether NAV Lean is achieving the desired outcomes.