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Report: For safety, FAA should plug information gaps

   The Federal Aviation Administration needs to address weaknesses in its aircraft data collection to ensure the continued safety of the U.S. aviation market, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office.
   More reliable data should be collected about runway overruns at the nation’s airports, airborne losses of separation, annual flight hours for the industry as a whole, and pilot training school inspections to learn how to stop accidents and incidents before they occur.
   The FAA is also currently addressing its aviation certification process to keep up to date on materials and current practices; this will help maintain the safety of the industry by correcting issues before planes make it out of the testing phase.
   Currently, GAO pointed out the U.S. aviation industry has not experienced a fatal commercial aviation accident in more than four years, even with 80,000 flights a day. To maintain this level of safety, congressional watchdog agency has recommended the FAA work to address the four key gaps in information gathering outlined in the report. In the report, the agency noted the FAA is planning to develop a program to measure runway overrun data. But the agency needs to do more, GAO said.
   “Sustained attention to these data collection and analysis issues will be necessary to ensure that FAA can more comprehensively and accurately assess and manage risk,” the report said. – Jon Ross