Air Traffic Control: FAA Should Define the Optimal Advanced Automation System Alternative - GAO Report
|Date:||Nov. 30, 1988|
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Cost effectiveness analysis
FAA Advanced Automation System
Air traffic control systems
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) plans to acquire the Advanced Automation System (AAS), focusing on FAA compliance with congressional direction to: (1) obtain more technical information and modify test plans before awarding the AAS acquisition contract; and (2) conduct a cost-benefit study.
GAO found that FAA complied with congressional direction to obtain more technical information regarding AAS by: (1) directing design contractors to perform risk-reduction activities and demonstrate how their chosen hardware and software technologies would meet performance requirements; (2) requiring the completion of additional tests before authorizing full controller work station production; and (3) reviewing the need to simulate advanced en route automation functions and deciding not to simulate them before awarding the contract. GAO also found that the FAA cost-benefit study: (1) stated that modernizing the air traffic control computer system was a good investment; (2) concluded that the most cost-beneficial approach was to close about 180 terminal control facilities and consolidate their functions at 23 large centers; (3) did not fully analyze or properly compare a full range of alternatives, including nonconsolidation approaches, to its preferred system; (4) used an unsound methodology to estimate AAS benefits; (5) addressed potential safety improvements qualitatively; (6) estimated that AAS contract costs could total about $3.3 billion, $1.7 billion less than an independent cost analysis estimated; and (7) did not successfully control AAS design costs and opposed suggestions to adopt a design-to-cost goal to help control costs.