Member Sumwalt and other NTSB Members are Required to Have High Level of Qualifications by Statute

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ARTICLE: Robert Sumwalt, NTSB member on scene of UPS cargo plane crash, is aviation safety expert, former airline pilot


This excellent article reviews the career and qualifications of Robert Sumwalt to be a member of the National Transportation Safety Board. He is the Board Member in charge of the investigation of the UPS Airbus crash in Birmingham, AL.

Member Sumwalt was an ATP pilot of Piedmont and then UPS. As noted in his NTSB biography, he was “a member of the Air Line Pilots Association’s (ALPA) Accident Investigation Board, and he chaired ALPA’s Human Factors and Training Group. He was a co-founder of that organization’s Critical Incident Response Program, which provides guidance to airline personnel involved in traumatic events such as accidents.” After that work, he was a consultant to NASA’s ASRS program studying crew performance, crew monitoring skills and aircraft deicing. He also ran a large corporate aviation department. He has written numerous books and articles on aviation safety as well as having taught at USC’s Aviation Safety and Security Program. He has received honors and awards from a number of aviation organizations.

That’s a very impressive set of credentials and one must be pleased that someone with his background is examining transportation accidents! Vice Chairman Hart, Member Rosekind and Member Weener all came to the Board with equally impressive academic and work qualifications.

Their selections to the Board are not an accident. Congress in its infinite wisdom has mandated that at least three of the Board members be selected on the “basis of technical qualification, professional standing, and demonstrated knowledge in accident reconstruction, safety engineering, human factors, transportation safety, or transportation regulation.” (49 USC §1111).

That sounds exactly like what should be required of those selected to be in these positions.

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