NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


August 24, 2001

Washington, D.C. -- National Transportation Safety Board Acting Chairman Carol J. Carmody today recognized Bombardier Recreational Products for responding to the Board's recommendation for product design safety improvements for the nation's burgeoning personal watercraft industry.

Carmody particularly cited a new safety innovation announced by Bombardier that provides PWC operators with improved steering capability during off-throttle and off-power steering situations. The new technology is referred to as Off-Power Assisted Steering (OPAS™).

"Recreational boating safety, including personal watercraft safety, is everyone's responsibility. The Safety Board wants to be sure that PWC activities remain safe and enjoyable for everyone. We congratulate Bombardier for its innovative action. I hope other PWC manufacturers will take similar action to advance personal watercraft safety," said Carmody.

Chairman Carmody was on hand at an event today in West Palm Beach, Florida, for the announcement of this new technology.

The Board has previously asked the States and the industry to strengthen their efforts to improve recreational boating and personal watercraft safety.

The Board has asked for:

· Design improvements to PWC, including off-throttle/off-power steering control;
· Mandatory use of PFDs (lifejackets) for all persons aboard PWC;
· Mandatory safety instruction training for all persons who operate rented PWCs;
· Mandatory boating education including all persons who operate high-powered vessels; and
· Mandatory inclusion of information on the safe operation of PWC in all recreational boating safety courses.

In 1998, an NTSB study highlighted the problems of operator control during off-throttle steering situations. The Board also found that one-third of the reported injuries in the accidents examined for the study occurred in the lower extremites; head, neck, and facial injuries accounted for one of every 4 injuries. Four out of 10 accident-involved PWC operators were injured.

The NTSB called for technical design improvements, and Bombardier was the first manufacturer to announce a more technologically advanced system. The newly introduced technology provides off-throttle and off-power assistance so that a PWC operator has greater maneuverability in off-throttle and off-power situations. Bombardier expects that this steering capability will enhance boating safety for everyone on the water.

"Promoting responsible boating has always been one of Bombardier's motivations in advancing technology to new levels," said Michel Baril, President and COO of Bombardier Recreational Products. "The new OPAS™ system greatly enhances driver maneuverability during off-throttle and off-power situations. The use of this innovative system will have a major positive impact on the boating industry and it is our hope that other PWC manufacturers will follow our lead."

NTSB Media Contact:
Keith Holloway
(202) 314-6100



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.