National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, DC - In an address today to the Aero Club of Washington, DC, NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman lauded the aviation community for its "great progress in improving commercial aviation safety." She praised the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration for issuing the long-awaited rule on flight and duty time regulations for air carrier pilots, but noted that to be truly science-based "the final rule must recognize that fatigue is a safety risk whether the payload is passengers or pallets."
Moving forward, Hersman said that maintaining and improving aviation's strong safety record will require using all the tools in the safety toolkit: continued emphasis on accident and incident investigation, data collection and analysis, new and emerging technologies, and cooperation.
Underscoring the theme of her remarks focused on moving aviation safety from reactive, or addressing safety issues only after a fatal crash, to predictive and preventive, Hersman cited two incident investigations - the 2010 overrun at Jackson Hole and the 2011 overrun at Chicago Midway. In these types of investigations, the NTSB identifies what went wrong and Hersman said if these incidents were compared to fleet experience the aviation community could use the information to predict future incidents or accidents. "The NTSB issues safety recommendations to be preventive," she added.
"Moving from reactive to predictive to preventive is a challenge," Hersman said. "Yet, through greater sharing and collaboration, the aviation community can take data points, in mountains of information, and connect the dots not just to maintain, but to improve, the strong safety record."
Noting that there were 1,466 general aviation accidents in 2011 that killed 444 people, Chairman Hersman said that improving general aviation safety, which is on the NTSB's Most Wanted List, remains a challenge for the aviation safety community.
The complete text of Chairman Hersman's remarks is available at: http://www.ntsb.gov/news/speeches/hersman/daph120918.html
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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.