Robert L. Sumwalt was sworn in as the 37th Member of the National Transportation Safety Board in August 2006, whereupon President George W. Bush designated him as Vice Chairman of the Board for a two-year term. In November 2011, President Barack Obama reappointed Member Sumwalt to an additional five year term. His term of office as a Board Member will run until December 31, 2016.
Prior to coming to the Board, Mr. Sumwalt was Manager of Aviation for SCANA, a Fortune 500 energy-based company. Mr. Sumwalt was an active pilot for 32 years, including 24 years as an airline pilot with Piedmont Airlines and then US Airways. He logged over 14,000 flight hours and earned type ratings in five aircraft.
Mr. Sumwalt worked on special assignment to the US Airways Flight Safety Department from 1997 to 2004, where he was involved in the development of numerous airline safety programs, and he served on the US Airways Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) Monitoring Team.
Mr. Sumwalt served as an air safety representative for Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) for 17 years and he chaired ALPA's Human Factors and Training Group. He was a co-founder of that organization's Critical Incident Response Program, which provides guidance to airline personnel involved in traumatic events such as accidents.
From 1991 to 1999, Mr. Sumwalt conducted aviation safety research as a consultant to NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System, studying various issues including flight crew performance, improving flight crew monitoring skills, and air carrier de-icing and anti-icing problems.
Mr. Sumwalt co-authored a book on aircraft accidents and he wrote chapters pertaining to aircraft accident investigation in two books. He has written extensively on aviation safety matters, having published over 90 articles and papers in aviation trade publications. Before joining the Board, he was a regular contributor to Professional Pilot magazine.
In 2003, Mr. Sumwalt joined the faculty of the University of Southern California's Aviation Safety and Security Program, where he was the primary human factors instructor.
In recognition of his contributions to the aviation industry, Mr. Sumwalt received the Flight Safety Foundation's Laura Taber Barbour Award in 2003 and ALPA's Air Safety Award in 2005. He is a 2009 inductee into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina.
Since joining the Board, Member Sumwalt has served as the Chairman of the Board of Inquiry for the following NTSB public hearings and forums:
He has served as the Member on-scene for the following NTSB accident investigations: