Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
Good Morning. Welcome to the Boardroom of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am Debbie Hersman, and it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Joining me are my fellow Board members, Vice Chairman Chris Hart, Member Robert Sumwalt, Member Mark Rosekind and Member Earl Weener.
Today we meet in open session, as required by the Government in Sunshine Act, to consider the accident report on Empire Airlines Flight 8284 – a Part 121 cargo flight that crashed short of the runway during approach in Lubbock, TX, on January 27, 2009. The airplane, which was registered to Federal Express Corporation and operated by Empire Airlines, Inc., was substantially damaged. The captain and first officer were injured in the crash; however, they have recovered from their injuries and continue to fly for Empire. While we cannot go back and prevent this accident, we do have the opportunity – and the obligation – to ensure that the lessons of this accident are well-learned so that they are not repeated.
In September 2009, the Safety Board held a public hearing in Washington, DC, to examine safety issues related to the event. Over the past several weeks, the Board Members have read the draft report and individually met with staff to discuss it. Today, however, is the first time that all of the Board members are meeting together to discuss the final draft.
I'd like to express the Safety Board's appreciation to the many groups and individuals who assisted the Board, both on-scene immediately after the accident and during the investigation. Of special note, I'd like to recognize FAA Inspectors Dan Vengen and Gordon Morris and the entire Lubbock Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), the Lubbock Airport Rescue and Firefighting personnel, the San Antonio FBI Evidence Response Team, and the Texas Department of Public Safety Aviation Sector. The support we received from each of you was invaluable. Thank you.
Staff will make presentations on what they believe are the most salient issues of the accident investigation. Each presentation will be followed by a round of questions from the Board Members. We will then consider the conclusions, probable cause determination and proposed safety recommendations. Because these are the Board's actual deliberations on the report; it may be revised as a result of actions taken during this meeting. Approximately 30 minutes after we conclude, an abstract of this report will be available from the NTSB Public Affairs office and posted on the NTSB's website.
In addition to both pilots surviving this accident, there is additional good news to report. In April 2009, three months after the accident, FedEx held a safety summit with its feeder operators to examine the circumstances of this accident. The summit resulted, among other things, in modifications to the ATR training curriculum taught at FlightSafety International, Inc. Additional simulator training sessions were also added. Perhaps one of the best changes is that all of the FedEx feeder operators developed "no-go" weather guidance – similar to the recommendation proposed in this report – that prohibits takeoff or landing operations in known or reported freezing rain or freezing drizzle. The operators took these actions, even though they are not required by the FAA. We commend Empire Airlines and the other FedEx feeder operators for this voluntary step and hope that other operators will similarly adopt such safety measures.
Dr. Mayer, would you please introduce the staff and proceed with the presentations.