NTSB Announces 2009 Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements

WASHINGTON, DC --The National Transportation Safety Board today issued its 2009 Federal Most Wanted List of safety improvements. Newly added to the list of 15 areas of concern were: Improve Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Flight Operations, Restrict the Use of Cell Phones by motorcoach drivers, and require Electronic On-Board Recorders by all motor carriers.

Among the issues removed from the list were positive train control and fatigue in the railroad industry, both of which have been on the list since its inception in 1990, and aircraft fuel tank flammability.

"Our Most Wanted List, which was created in 1990, was designed to raise the public's awareness and support for transportation safety issues," said NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. "The safety issues on this list are critical to improving transportation safety. When acted upon, these recommendations will reduce accidents and save lives."

2009 Most Wanted List

AVIATION

The Board added Improve the Safety of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Flights. The Board believes that a concerted effort must be made to improve the safety of emergency medical services flights. In 2006, the Safety Board issued a special investigation report addressing the safety issues involved in these operations. Although the Board has issued recommendations to improve EMS safety, the FAA has not implemented the changes. In the last 11 months, there have been nine EMS accidents resulting in 35 fatalities.

Improve Runway Safety -- In the last two decades, the Safety Board has issued numerous safety recommendations addressing this issue and believes that implementing a safety system for ground movement with direct warnings to flight crews will improve runway safety. Another recommendation in this issue area would require pilots to conduct landing distance assessments before every landing based on existing performance data, actual conditions, and incorporating a minimum safety margin of 15 percent. Also, a new recommendation was added to this subject area that would provide pilots with information or alerts in the cockpit regarding attempted takeoffs from a taxiway or the wrong runway.

Reduce Dangers to Aircraft Flying in Icing Conditions -- Actions need to be taken to improve flight safety in icing conditions. The FAA has yet to complete efforts to revise icing certification criteria, testing requirements, and restrictions on operating in icing conditions. A recommendation added this year on deice boots addresses a widely held, but incorrect, belief that activation of deice boots be delayed rather than started immediately upon entering icing conditions.

Require Image Recorders -- Conventional cockpit image recorders (CVR) and flight data recorders (FDR) do not show the initial cockpit environment leading up to a crash. Image recording systems, a supplement to the CVR and FDR that are currently on large aircraft (and that could be retrofitted on smaller planes that do not have voice recorders) would provide critical information about the actions inside the cockpit and immediately before and during an accident.

The Board removed the area Eliminate Flammable Fuel/Air Vapors in Fuel Tanks on Transport Category Aircraft from the list. On July 21, 2008, The FAA published a final rule titled "Reduction of Fuel Tank Flammability in Transport Category Airplanes." The rule requires fuel/air mixtures in all fuel tanks to be below a prescribed flammability level for all newly manufactured aircraft that have more than 30 seats, as well as modifications to passenger-carrying aircraft manufactured after Jan. 1, 1992.

The Board kept the issue Improve Crew Resource Management Training for on-demand Part 135 carriers on the list with no changes.

To read railroad-, highway-, and intermodal-related safety improvements on the list, click here.

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