Patt Morrison for February 16, 2011

Allegations of overspending, underfunding and recklessness fly in the face of the FAA

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Chris Kleponis/Getty Images

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randolph Babbitt and Transportation Inspector General Calvin Scovill III listen during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Subcommittee on Aviation hearing about airline safety and pilot training in Washington, DC.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is having its problems—airlines want to water down pilot training regulations they consider ill-informed; reported air traffic controller mistakes have doubled since 2008; and a report out last week from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the FAA is far outspending its pocketbook, which is primarily funded by excise taxes and fees paid by you, the consumer. It’s a near perfect storm that could result in less safe, more expensive flights in the U.S. What’s being done to address the problems, both in Congress and throughout the airline industry? Could the solution be even higher fees for airline travelers? Patt checks in with experts in all concerned sectors.

Guests:

Gerald Dillingham, co-author of the Government Accountability Office’s February 3rd report, “Airport and Airway Trust Fund: Declining Balance Raise Concerns over Ability to Meet Future Demands"

William Voss, president & CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation; former director of air traffic systems development at the Federal Aviation Administration and a former air traffic controller

The FAA declined to make someone available for this interview but did send the following statement regarding the reported increase in air traffic controller mistakes:

“Over the past several years, the FAA has transitioned to a non-punitive error reporting system at its air traffic facilities. This cultural change in safety reporting has produced a wealth of information to help the FAA identify potential risks in the system and take swift action to address them. The new system has resulted in a higher number reports of incidents involving loss of the required separation between aircraft than in previous years, but the number of incidents includes events that never would have been identified and understood under the previous system. These events occur in much less than 1 percent of the operations in the system over the course of a year.”


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