GAO On NextGen Human Factors Integration

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The GAO says that FAA and NASA officials need to develop a cross-agency plan for coordination of human factors research efforts, or NextGen implementation may see cost increases and delays. "FAA has not established an agreed-upon set of initial focus areas for research that identifies and capitalizes on past and current research," said the GAO. Meanwhile, "experts GAO contacted generally agreed that FAA's and NASA's human factors research efforts adequately support NextGen." While efforts by both NASA and the FAA are ongoing and coordinated "in a variety of ways," the GAO says its research shows that human factors research leadership is still lacking and coordination efforts can be improved. The office has offered suggestions.

In the past, failure for the FAA to consider these aspects during early development led to "schedule slippages and cost increases." The GAO is says experts it interviewed suggested that the FAA needed to improve collaboration of human factors efforts within FAA departments and establish strong leadership. A cross-agency human factors coordination research plan developed in coordination with NASA was previously recommended by the FAA's Joint Planning and Development office, but never implemented. And top-level positions that oversee human factors integration efforts have not been consistently staffed. The GAO suggests these factors be addressed by providing consistent leadership with sufficient authority to prioritize human factors issues and address them throughout NextGen.