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U.N. aviation council launches audit of US air safety oversight

2024.07.09 18:05

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) – The U.N. aviation council this week will launch the first audit of the U.S. civil aviation safety oversight system since 2007, a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration official told reporters on Tuesday.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will conduct the two-week audit with 12 auditors from 10 countries, beginning on Wednesday. Results are due in January. It will review the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Defense Department, Federal Communications Commission and other U.S. agencies involved in aviation.

There will be 790 questions covering eight areas including civil aviation legislation and regulation, aircraft accident and incidents investigations, air navigation services. Audits help the ICAO determine implementation of international standards.

A good score would allow the U.S. to demonstrate leadership in meeting robust aviation safety standards and to encourage nations around the world to do the same, the FAA official said.

The U.S. has the world’s most complex airspace and has an impressive safety record with the last fatal U.S. passenger airline crash in February 2009. The last ICAO audit of the U.S. was in 2007 was under a different methodology.

The FAA also audits other countries for compliance with ICAO safety standards. The FAA downgraded Mexico in May 2021 and restored Mexico’s higher rating in September, which allowed Mexican carriers to expand U.S. routes and add new service.

© Reuters. Members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agency arrive at ICAO headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, Canada October 1, 2022.  REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/ File Photo

The FAA has struggled with a persistent shortage of air traffic controllers and a series of near-miss incidents, including some blamed on controller errors.

At several facilities, controllers are working mandatory overtime and six-day work weeks to cover shortages. The FAA is short of staffing targets by about 3,000 controllers. Last month, the FAA said it was again extending cuts to minimum flight requirements at congested New York City-area airports through October 2025, citing air traffic controller staffing shortages.



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