FAA Faces Challenges in Implementing and Measuring the Effectiveness of Its 2015 Runway Safety Call to Action Initiatives
What We Looked At
Runway incursions—incidents involving unauthorized aircraft, vehicles, or people on a runway—have been a longstanding challenge for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Agency reported a nearly 83-percent rise in total incursions between fiscal years 2011 and 2017, and there have been serious incidents in which two aircraft have come within a few feet of colliding with each other. Due to the increase in runway incursions, in June 2015 FAA initiated a Call to Action forum that focused on developing short-, mid-, and long-term initiatives to mitigate runway incursions and improve safety. In November 2015, FAA published 22 initiatives developed at the forum. Our audit objective was to evaluate FAA’s progress in implementing initiatives to improve runway safety. Specifically, we assessed the status of initiatives resulting from the 2015 Runway Safety Call to Action forum.
What We Found
As of November 2017, FAA had completed 10 of the 22 initiatives, including initiatives aimed at educating pilots on signs, markings, and other visual aids at high-risk airports and updating a best practices list for airport surface and movement areas. Ten initiatives are still in progress while two initiatives were canceled. However, the Agency faces challenges in fully implementing the initiatives still in progress. These include dedicating funding to complete four initiatives and fully implementing new technologies for seven initiatives, which could take years to complete. In addition, while FAA has implemented a monitoring plan to track the status of the initiatives, the plan does not tie the initiatives to quantifiable goals or other metrics that would measure their effectiveness in reducing runway incursions.
We made three recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administrator regarding revisions to the 2015 Call to Action monitoring plan. FAA concurred with all three recommendations.