The FAA needs to do a better job of issuing certifications and approvals, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a recent report. A lack of efficiency and consistency in how the FAA interprets its own rules adversely affects the aviation industry, causing delays and higher costs, the analysts found.

To improve its performance, the GAO says, FAA should develop a process to track how long it takes to act on requests for certification or approval and the causes of each delay, then use that data to assess the extent of delays and figure out how to better allocate resources to reduce wait times. Also, the GAO says, the FAA should use that data to create a system of measurable performance goals and track performance toward those goals.

The report examines how the FAA issues approvals for new aircraft, parts and equipment suppliers, as well as pilots and operators who use the national airspace system. Ten of the 13 industry group and company officials interviewed by GAO for its study said their organization had experienced variation in FAA certification and approval decisions that had adverse affects on their efforts. A summary of the report as well as a PDF of the full analysis (40 pages) is available online.