Responding to a request by US legislators, the Transportation Department inspector general is reviewing use by FAA of third party contractors to design and execute new flight procedures serving as key elements of the next generation air traffic control system.
Specifically DOT is reviewing procedures for Required Navigation Performance (RNP), which allows aircraft to fly along a precise, pre-defined 3d path tailored to reduce delays and cut fuel burn and emissions.
"Since 2005, FAA has published over 150 RNP procedures and plans to publish 300 more by 2013," says the inspector general. To design, test and validate those procedures FAA has contracted with private sector companies. "Congress and other stakeholders have expressed concerns about FAA's ability to supervise third-party procedural design initiatives," DOT states.
House aviation subcommittee chairman Representative Jerry Costello has tasked DOT to assess the extent of FAA's reliance on third parties to develop RNP, and determine if the agency has established a sufficient framework and staffing to provide safety oversight to those third parties.
The audit began today.