Finally, the FAA should address the human resource issues associated with changes to the position of aviation safety inspector and to AFS business processes before developing a new staffing model.
Available data and improvements. Whenever possible, the FAA should seek and take advantage of available data to populate new staffing models. Since a model’s predictions are only as good as the data that go into it, careful consideration should be given to the relative costs of modifying existing data-gathering systems versus creating new ones.
Resources. The committee’s sense is that one of the failings of past staffing models is that they required a commitment of resources for development, maintenance, and use beyond what FAA or AFS management was able or willing to provide. This is not a problem unique to the FAA. Modeling endeavors often begin with great ambitions and expectations, only to be undone by the weight of the work that is required to realize their ambitious goals.
We strongly recommend that during the model design phase the FAA should focus on the tradeoff between what it is willing to invest (both for development and for maintenance and use of the model) and what it is expecting to gain. Constant and explicit consideration of this trade-off is imperative during the early stages of staffing model design and development. The gains should be viewed from the perspective of the breadth of the staffing questions that the model will be able to answer as well as the validity and utility of the answers it is able to yield. In a word, we recommend that the FAA conduct a serious cost-benefit analysis for any new modeling effort that is proposed, undertaking this effort only if it is institutionally committed to the development and maintenance of such a model.