Aviation Forecasting: FAA Should Implement Additional Risk-Management Practices in Forecasting Aviation Activity

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) annually prepares forecasts of future aviation activity and uses these forecasts to help manage most of its $15 billion in annual spending. While forecasting is inherently uncertain, managing that uncertainty is essential to informed decisions. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to examine the accuracy of and FAA’s use of two annual forecasts of aviation activity. This report discusses the accuracy of FAA’s forecasts from 2004 through 2014 and strengths and limitations of FAA’s consideration of risks in developing its forecasts. This report focuses on the use of the Aerospace and Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) forecasts to inform key operational and investment decisions. GAO compared these two forecasts to actual activity from 2004 through 2014 for the Aerospace forecasts and from 2010 through 2014 for the TAF forecasts and identified factors affecting that accuracy. GAO compared FAA’s treatment of risk in developing forecasts to selected risk-management practices recommended by the Office of Management and Budget, GAO, and others. GAO recommends that the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) require the FAA to: (1) report on uncertainty and set error response thresholds for both forecasts and (2) document FAA’s methods and assumptions for the forecasting models. The DOT partially concurs with the first recommendation and fully concurs with the second. DOT agrees to report on uncertainty but not to set thresholds. GAO believes that thresholds ensure systematic review of forecast accuracy.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 62p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01594589
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-16-210
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 17 2016 11:21AM