NTSB’s ANNUAL MOST WANTED SAFETY LIST DRAWS SIGNIFICANT REACTIONS FROM AVIATION GROUPS, BUT REQUIRES TIME TO IMPLEMENT

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ARTICLE: NTSB’S Most Wanted List Identifies Top Ten Transportation Challenges For 2013

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The NTSB annually issues its Top Ten Transportation Challenges and it announced its “Most Wanted List” at the National Press Club (above picture). This year’s list includes five aviation issues (all CAPS):

• IMPROVE SAFETY OF AIRPORT SURFACE OPERATIONS
• PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY OF TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
• Enhance Pipeline Safety
• Implement Positive Train Control Systems
• Eliminate Substance-Impaired Driving
• Improve the Safety of Bus Operations
• ELIMINATE DISTRACTION IN TRANSPORTATION
• IMPROVE FIRE SAFETY IN TRANSPORTATION
• IMPROVE GENERAL AVIATION SAFETY
• Mandate Motor Vehicle Collision Avoidance Technologies
[the above titles, at the NTSB website {above link}, connect to more detailed explanations of each issue]

These well-considered highlighted issues attract considerable attention from the aviation community. By the end of the day of the Board’s revelation of its safety targets, no less than 4 aviation organizations had commented on the list:

In addition, several of the aviation trade publications picked up on the story of the NTSB’s announcement and/or the associations’ reactions:

Interestingly, there are no official comments from the FAA, which bears the brunt of trying to meet the NTSB’s publically set expectations of what needs to be fixed.

Getting off the list is newsworthy as NATCA pointed out that controller fatigue is no longer on the Most Wanted list. The union cites the efforts of FAA management to alleviate the tiredness issue by improving schedules, heightening awareness on a personal level about fatigue and signing an agreement this year to implement a scientifically-based and data-driven Fatigue Risk Management System.

ACI’s president notes that his association’s frequent refrain that expanding runway capacity is important. With the imprimatur of the NTSB’s concerns, airports add to their argument for additional funding—perhaps in the context of the Budget Cliff. Principato’s position would be no cuts.

GAMA, whose general aviation is new to the list, welcomed the attention. Its President used the platform to repeat its agenda of regulatory initiatives which would enhance safety and improve the business.

ALPA gave the list mixed reviews, chastising the Board for taking pilot fatigue off of the targeted issues with the FAA’s rules on flight and duty time excluding cargo carriers. They do, however, applaud the inclusion of inflight fire risks.

The public perception of the NTSB creates tremendous credibility. The authority of that independent Board is to recommend, not implement. The FAA, in order to implement any action, has to do more than just establish what it wants to do; most of the remedial efforts which the NTSB urges requires that the FAA draft detailed rules which can be uniformly enforced across a broad, complex industry and to endure a convoluted, multi-layered, slow review process.

There is some urgency to a Most Wanted List; there needs to be some patience/understanding as the FAA seeks to move the NTSB’s selections into its existing priorities and to gain the necessary approvals.

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