AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: FAA CAN BETTER FORECAST AND PREVENT EQUIPMENT FAILURES

Concern has been expressed that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not ensuring that the air traffic control (ATC) system will continue to operate at a high level of performance until the new-generation systems and equipment arrive. The General Accounting Office (GAO) evaluated how effectively FAA has identified and assessed equipment performance problems at FAA's en-route centers. In addition, GAO explored ways in which FAA could better utilize its current maintenance data bases to manage the systems' maintenance effort. Findings, in brief, were as follows: FAA needs to take action to improve its measurement of en-route center performance by making use of available information on problems with equipment that supports critical ATC functions. Although FAA reports its en-route systems to be about 99% reliable, this does not take into account the fact that many of the aging equipment components within these systems have been experiencing problems. FAA could better forecast how long it will be able to sustain ATC systems at a high level of performance if it measured the reliability of its equipment. While FAA's en-route ATC systems were designed with redundant equipment to prevent one equipment failure from causing a full system outage, as all of FAA's equipment gets older and is more prone to failure, the margin of error provided by redundancy erodes and the risk increases that both the primary and backup equipment will fail at the same time, causing system performance to deteriorate. FAA can use computerized equipment maintenance data in the Maintenance Management System (MMS) to make management decisions based on a more thorough measurement of equipment performance. In order to utilize these maintenance data to their fullest extent, however, FAA must address several MMS data base problems by refining data definitions and reporting guidelines.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Transportation and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives.
  • Corporate Authors:

    U.S. General Accounting Office

    441 G Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20548
  • Publication Date: 1991-8

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices;
  • Pagination: 14 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00615747
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-91-179
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 30 1991 12:00AM