As part of its safety oversight mission, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) monitors more than 290,000 registered aircraft, 5,400 aircraft operators, and nearly 1,600 approved manufacturers to ensure compliance with aviation safety laws and regulations. Much of this work is performed by the Agency’s aviation safety inspector workforce, whose responsibilities include overseeing the maintenance practices of air carriers and certifying the airworthiness of new aircraft. FAA estimates that it will employ more than 4,200 inspectors in fiscal year 2020.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 directed the Agency to update its safety critical staffing model to determine how many aviation safety inspectors it needs to fulfill its mission, and our office to audit the updated model. In November 2019, FAA informed OIG that it had updated the model. Accordingly, we are initiating an audit with the following objectives: to (1) assess the changes FAA made to update the inspector staffing model, (2) review the assumptions and methodologies the model uses to predict the number of aviation safety inspectors FAA needs to meet its current and future oversight responsibilities, and (3) determine how FAA’s model accounts for the use of designees.