Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Opening Statement By
Honorable Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
Chairman, Board of Inquiry
Public Hearing
July 12-13, 2006


Good morning and welcome.

 

I am Debbie Hersman, a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board and Chairman of this Board of Inquiry.

 

At this hearing we are considering the fire on board United Parcel Service Airline Flight 1307 which destroyed a DC-8 on February 7, 2006, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The purpose of this hearing is to learn additional facts, conditions, and circumstances that led to this fire to supplement information the Safety Board uncovered during its on-scene investigation. This process will assist the Safety Board in determining the probable cause of the accident and in issuing safety recommendations that may prevent similar accidents in the future. 

 

Specifically, we will concentrate on the following issues:

1. The facts and circumstances of the accident of UPS Airlines flight 1307;

2. Airport rescue and fire fighting response;

3. Design, testing, and failure modes of lithium batteries; 

4. Operations and regulations concerning lithium batteries;

5. Aircraft fire detection and suppression systems and regulations.

 

At this point, I would like to introduce the other members of the Safety Board staff. Assisting me on the Board of Inquiry will be:

Mr. John DeLisi, Chief, Major Investigations Division, Aviation Safety;

Dr. Joseph Kolly, Deputy Director, Research and Engineering; and

Mr. Bob Chipkevich, Director of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations.

 

The Board of Inquiry will be assisted by a Technical Panel. Members of the Technical Panel are:

Mr. Frank Hilldrup, Investigator-in-Charge of this investigation;

Mr. Todd Gunther, Cargo Group Chairman and Hearing Officer;

Ms. Nancy McAtee, Fire Group Chairman;

Mr. Joseph Panagiotou, Fire and Explosion Investigator;

Mr. Jim Henderson, Hazardous Materials Group Chairman.;

Ms. Crystal Thomas, Hazardous Materials Investigator;

Ms. Courtney Liedler, Survival Factors/Airport and Emergency Response Group Chairman.

 

 

Other Safety Board staff members assisting with this hearing are:

Ms. Lauren Peduzzi, from the Safety Board's Office of Public Affairs;

Mr. Nicholas Humphrey, who will be handling the administrative matters regarding this hearing;

Mr. Gary Halbert, the Safety Board's General Counsel, and

Ms. Nancy Lewis, my Special Assistant.

 

In accordance with the Safety Board's procedural rules governing public hearings, the designated parties to a public hearing include those persons, governmental agencies, companies, and associations whose participation in the hearing is deemed necessary in the public interest and whose special knowledge will contribute to the development of pertinent evidence.  There are six such designated parties in attendance today.  As I call the name of each party, I ask that the designated spokesperson state for the record his or her name, title, and affiliation:

 

Federal Aviation Administration – Ms. Victoria Anderson

Pipeline/Hazardous Materials Safety Administration – Mr. Bob Richard

UPS Airlines – Mr. Frank Skubis

Boeing Commercial Airplane Group – Mr. James Talay

Independent Pilots Association – Mr. Gary Stephen

City of Philadelphia – Mr. Mark Gale

 

I would like to use this opportunity to publicly thank all of the parties for their cooperation and their willingness to work with us in the investigation of this accident.

 

The witnesses testifying at this hearing will be introduced when they begin their testimony.  They have been selected because of their ability to provide the best available information on the issues.  Hard copies of the witness and exhibit list, and electronic copies of items already in the docket, are available from Lauren Peduzzi in the press room. 

 

The witnesses will testify under oath.  Each will be introduced by name and any special qualifications he or she may possess for purposes of this hearing.  The first witness will be the Investigator-in-Charge of the accident investigation, Mr. Frank Hilldrup, who will summarize certain facts about the accident and the investigative activities that have taken place.  The subsequent witnesses will be questioned first by the Safety Board's Technical Panel, then by the designated spokesperson for each party to the hearing, and finally by the Board of Inquiry. 

 

I will permit a second round of questions if the record needs to be clarified or if some new matter has been raised and requires further exploration.  If one of the parties would like a second round of questions, the designated spokesperson should make the request and state the reason for the request.  I would expect the second round of questions to be very brief with no repetition of previous questions. 

 

A witness who has finished testifying may be subject to recall should the need arise. Therefore, witnesses should not leave the hearing without first checking with the Investigator in Charge or the Hearing Officer about the likelihood of being recalled for additional questioning.

 

During this hearing, we will not attempt to determine the probable cause of the accident.  Such analyses and cause determinations will be adopted later by the full Safety Board after all of the evidence gathered from our investigation is discussed during a public, or “sunshine” meeting.  At that time, the Safety Board will consider the evidence, review the analyses and determine probable cause in a final report.

 

This hearing is not adversarial; there will be no adverse parties or interests, no formal pleadings or cross-examination. The Safety Board will not determine liability, and questions directed to issues of liability will not be permitted.  As Chairman of the Board of Inquiry, I will make all rulings on the admissibility of evidence, and my rulings will be final.  I request that all parties and the Technical Panel refrain from asking questions that:

  1. Are narrative-type questions, that is, more in the nature of testimony than a question;
  2. Are beyond the scope of the issues agreed upon;
  3. Are repetitive;
  4. Are irrelevant, immaterial, or argumentative.

The record of the investigation, including the transcript of the hearing and all exhibits entered into the record, will become part of the Safety Board's public docket on this accident and will be available for inspection at the Safety Board's office in Washington, D.C.  Anyone wanting to purchase the transcript, including the parties to this hearing, should contact the court reporter directly.  

 

Following the hearing, the parties are invited to submit comments to the Safety Board regarding the conclusions they believe should be drawn from the evidence and what preventive measures should be taken.  Please submit 15 copies of your comments to the Safety Board within 30 days after you receive a transcript of the hearing.  Please also submit one copy of your comments to each of the other parties to the hearing, as well as to parties to the field phase of the investigation.  All comments received by the Safety Board will be made a part of the public docket of the investigation.

 

I will call the first witness. Mr. Hilldrup, will you please come forward and take the witness stand?