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FAA Evaluating Options For Managing Aircraft Fleet

To control costs, FAA evaluates options for its 47-aircraft fleet, including leasing and contracting out some tasks.

The FAA is considering whether to consolidate or otherwise modify its fleet of 46 government-owned aircraft that are used for flight inspections, research and development, transport of government officials and aviation safety training.

In a market survey published March 31, the agency said it is considering launching the study to help guide aircraft procurement and modifications decisions. “It is expected that this fleet study will address the flight program consolidation, the total FAA mission demands, and how available resources will be better integrated, controlled, and/or replaced,” said the agancy.

The study would determine if there is unnecessary redundancy in missions and aircraft, how much it costs to operate each aircraft, the return on investment from “real work accomplished” by each aircraft and how much could be saved by potentially leasing or renting aircraft rather than owning. Cost of ownership includes pilot training for multiple aircraft types.

The study would be primarily focused on the future of flight-inspection aircraft, which account for half of the FAA’s owned fleet. The FAA uses the aircraft—17 Beechcraft King Air 300s, five Learjet 60s, three Bombardier Challenger 601s and three Challenger 604/605s—to check instrument approaches and airway procedures.

The FAA allows certain contractors to verify instrument approach procedures but does the bulk of the work in-house. This contrasts with some other countries, including the UK, where all flight-test procedures are subcontracted out.

The FAA is also interested in whether its training and research operations could be contracted out, consolidated or in some cases eliminated. The agency uses nine Beechcraft C90s for training and has six research and development aircraft, including a Bombardier Global Express and a Convair 580.

If launched, the study is expected to take approximately nine months, after which the contractor could be asked to help implement any changes if the agency decides to alter the fleet.

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