Audit Reports

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FAA Has Taken Steps To Identify Flight Deck Vulnerabilities but Needs To Enhance Its Mitigation Efforts

Requested by Senator Dianne Feinstein
Project ID: 
Recent incidents have drawn renewed worldwide attention to flight deck safety and security, including securing cockpit doors. On March 24, 2015, Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed in the Alps, killing all 150 people onboard. The crash was determined to have been caused by the deliberate and planned action of the co-pilot. After the Germanwings crash, Senator Dianne Feinstein requested that we evaluate the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of commercial airline flight deck safety. Our audit objectives were to assess the effectiveness of FAA’s actions to (1) identify vulnerabilities to flight deck security, and (2) mitigate identified flight deck vulnerabilities.
We made six recommendations to FAA to improve cockpit safety and security; FAA concurred with three recommendations, partially concurred with one recommendation, and non-concurred with two recommendations. We are requesting that FAA reconsider its response for two recommendations.
THE DEPARTMENT HAS DETERMINED THAT THIS REPORT CONTAINS SENSITIVE SECURITY INFORMATION (SSI) that is controlled under 49 CFR parts 15 and 1520 to protect Sensitive Security Information exempt from public disclosure. For U.S. Government agencies, public disclosure is governed by 5 U.S.C. 552 and 49 CFR parts 15 and 1520. SSI has been redacted from the report version posted here. 




Closed on 08.16.2018
No. 1 to FAA

Develop and implement a process for field level inspectors to coordinate with TSA on programs with closely related safety and security responsibilities, such as results of air carrier cockpit access program audits.

Closed on 09.10.2018
No. 2 to FAA

Sensitive information redacted

Closed on 08.26.2020
No. 3 to FAA

Publish an FAA Notice to inspectors that communicates the existence of AC 120-110 and RTCA Report DO-329, highlights the blocking methods orchestrated by the Special Committee, and directs inspectors to communicate this information to the carriers they oversee.

Closed on 08.26.2020
No. 4 to FAA

Require air carriers to conduct a Safety Risk Assessment (under FAA's Safety Management System) of their current secondary barrier methods using all information from the 2011 RTCA report on secondary barriers, either as a stand-alone Notice or incorporated into another Notice recommended above.

Closed on 06.06.2018
No. 5 to FAA

Meet with air carriers and TSA to discuss best practices that may be used to enhance cockpit security and reduce crew complacency.

Closed on 08.03.2018
No. 6 to FAA

Conduct outreach to industry and DHS to assess flight attendant concerns on additional training needed to better prepare for emergency situations, such as a crewmember lockout from the cockpit.