Introduction of Family Assistance Paper
by Jim Hall, Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly--32nd Session
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
September 25, 1998
Thank you President Kotaite.
The United States has submitted Working Paper
31 that urges the Assembly to agree on the need for the International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop guidance material for States
dealing with the needs of aviation disaster victims and their families.
As many of you know, in 1996, the United States adopted laws that require
United States airlines to submit a detailed plan to our Department of Transportation,
or DOT, dealing with the needs of victims and their families following
airline accidents in the United States.
In 1997, additional legislation was adopted that also requires foreign
airlines operating to and from the United States to submit a plan to our
DOT similar to those required of domestic airlines.
The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, is charged with reviewing
the airline plans and ensuring that airlines fulfill their obligations
following a crash in the United States. The NTSB is also charged with coordinating
United States government resources in support of airline and local and
state efforts to meet the needs of airline disaster victims and their families.
As Chairman of the NTSB, I can report that our new program has been
exercised already and we have learned a great deal that will make future
implementation of the program more efficient.
The benefits of this program were recently apparent when Swissair flight
111 crashed near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Swissair activated the plan developed
for operations in the United States, and I understand it has resulted in
excellent handling of the victims' families affairs. Swissair and the governments
of Canada and Nova Scotia should be acknowledged for the professional and
respectful manner in which they assisted the families of the victims of
I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to the Spanish
government which has submitted Working Paper 80
that contains similar views on this subject.
The United States urges the Assembly to adopt the resolutions contained
in Working Paper 31.
In general, we are urging that ICAO and Contracting States reaffirm
their commitment to support victims of civil aviation accidents and their
We are urging ICAO to provide support for the development of guidance
materials, which could include Standards and Recommended Practices, citing
the need for the establishment of a program by Contracting States and their
air carriers to support the victims of aviation accidents and their families.
If the resolutions are adopted, the NTSB is prepared to assist ICAO
with the development of guidance material or any other documentation.
We are also urging Contracting States to cooperate with ICAO and other
States in the development and implementation of a program to support victims
of aviation accidents and their family members.
Thank you Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be here today to present this important Working Paper.