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Remarks before the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI), Ashburn, Virginia, May 5, 2005
Ellen Engleman Conners
International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI), Ashburn, Virginia

To those of you from around the country and from around the globe, I bid you welcome to the NTSB Academy. We are pleased to have you with us.

At the NTSB, we are very proud of the training opportunities that are provided here at the Academy.

And you should all be very proud of the work you do each and every day around the world. Quietly, without seeking the spotlight, you seek the cause of aviation accidents, and always do so with one goal in mind: to prevent the loss of life and serious injury that could result from such an accident ever happening again.

But the results of your work are even more far-reaching than the untold number of lives you have saved and serious injuries you have prevented. Your work increases the traveling public's confidence in our aviation system, and that keeps people and goods moving through our skies.

However, the impact goes beyond traveler confidence. The aviation system is part of an even greater, interconnected, international transportation network that includes roads, rails, waterways, and pipelines. You all recognize that fact from the series of transportation modes you utilized simply to get to this one conference in one evening. So the success of your work in the aviation field has a ripple effect on all modes of transportation.

That is why I am so proud of the work of the staff at the NTSB. Their hard work and unrelenting commitment to safety in all modes of transportation have resulted in tremendous progress in properly closing out safety recommendations proposed by the Board. By implementing a new follow-up regime on our safety recommendations, known as our Safety With A Team (SWAT) approach, the Board has reduced the number of open recommendations to just over 800. To give you an idea of the progress and hard work involved in that accomplishment, only two years ago that number stood at over 1000 and was growing with the passing of each new recommendation.

Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, let me also assure you of this fact: we are continuing to issue new recommendations, and we are addressing those that already exist in a "no compromise" fashion. Any suggestion, as some have made, that we are somehow "compromising" or "negotiating" when it comes to our safety recommendations is false. The 400-plus employees of the Board are far too dedicated to the mission to even contemplate compromise on our recommendations, and it is an insult to them and their proven record of achievement to suggest otherwise.

The bottom line is that all of us at the Board, the career staff and the political leadership, are, like you, privileged to serve a mission that calls upon us to always put forth our best effort to save lives.

In the end, the families and friends of pilots, flight attendants, ground crews and passengers have a right to expect their loved ones to return home to them at the end of their flight or their day at the terminal; and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to help make certain that happens.

So please allow me to close by thanking you, once again, for the work you do, the results you achieve, and the lives you continue to save.