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Flight Research and Analysis Group

Flight Systems Laboratory (FSL)


The Flight Systems Laboratory (FSL) is the research and development arm of the Flight Research and Analysis Group. The FSL assesses the safety associated with the implementation of emerging instrument flight operational concepts and navigational systems into the NAS.


The FAA FSL consists of individuals with diverse backgrounds, including:

  • Engineers
  • Mathematicians
  • Operations Research Analysts


The laboratory’s clients include internal Flight Technologies and Procedures Division stakeholders, air traffic, airports, FAA regions, the aviation industry, and FAA executives who seek objective safety assessments of emerging instrument flight operational concepts and navigation systems to improve flight operations, standards, capacity, and aviation safety within the NAS.


The primary role of the FSL is to perform safety studies, which typically result in the generation of a safety study Technical Report. A safety study is a scientific study of an operational system that is made in order to determine its operational risk. It is scientific in that it uses objective measurement and quantitative analysis to produce its results. The operational system under study consists of scenarios that include potential hazards, and there is risk associated with encountering a hazard within a scenario. The risk must be understood and quantified in order to determine the safety of the system. Steps utilized in the performance of safety studies include:

  • Problem definition,
  • Modeling the problem and developing mathematical models,
  • Data collection and data organization,
  • Data analysis and evaluation of risk, and
  • Reporting results via a Technical Report.

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