NTSB Acting Chairman Addresses Wichita Aero Club, Emphasizes Aviation Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker today briefed the newly formed Wichita Aero Club in Wichita, KS, on recent NTSB actions and activities in the aviation safety arena.

Rosenker pointed out that while the overall aviation safety record in the United States is among the best in the world, recent accidents such as the Bombardier Dash 8 crash in Buffalo earlier this year and the spike in fatalities in on-demand Part 135 air charter operations in 2008 are cause for concern.

"We continue to do everything we can to identify the safety issues involved, and to advocate for the adoption of our recommendations that will make the skies safer," said Rosenker. "While some of our recommendations call for regulations, I firmly believe that regulation is not the only way to improve safety. I believe that voluntary action by industry, in partnership with the government, is one of the most effective ways to decrease accidents."

Rosenker highlighted some key issues of particular interest to the general aviation community, such as the recent efforts of a government-industry working group (of which the NTSB is a member) to develop a specification for lightweight flight recorders that will be finalized this summer.

"If recorder systems that captured cockpit audio, images, and parametric data had been installed on the Butte accident airplane [the Pilatus PC-12/45 that crashed on March 22, 2009], the recorders would have enabled us to quickly determine information about the accident scenario, including precise locations, altitudes, headings, airspeeds, and pilot actions," said Rosenker.

The Acting Chairman shared some personal experiences as the NTSB Board Member on scene for the Butte accident, as well as for the October 2008 launch to the scene of the discovery of the airplane wreckage of famed aviator, Steve Fossett, who disappeared in September 2007 while flying a friend's Bellanca Super Decathlon.

In his closing remarks, Rosenker called the audience's attention to the NTSB's Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements that is updated annually across all transportation modes.

"This is the agency's high priority hit list of what we believe to be the most critical changes needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives," said Rosenker. He called upon the members of the Wichita aviation community to join the NTSB as part of "the team effort between the Board, FAA, and the industry you represent" to ensure a safe and efficient aviation transportation network in the United States.

The full text of the speech is available here under speeches and testimony.