Adds needed Rail Safety expertise
Advocate for MWL Positive Train Control
The NTSB is empowered by Congress to investigate United States accidents in civil aviation railroad, highway, marine and pipeline transportation modes. Its existing Board Members have expertise in these disciplines—Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt (aviation), Member Dr. Earl F. Weener (aviation) and Member T. Bella Dinh-Zarr(highways) [plus a vacancy]. As noted in the cover graphic, all of the NTSB’s 2918 Most Wanted List items (Eliminate Distractions; Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents; Prevent Loss of Control in Flight in General Aviation; Improve Rail Transit Safety Oversight; End Alcohol and Other Drug Impairment in Transportation; Increase Implementation of Collision Avoidance Technologies; Expand Recorder Use to Enhance Safety; Require Medical Fitness; Strengthen Occupant Protection; Ensure the Safe Shipment of Hazardous Materials) involve the rails.
The nominee currently serves as Democratic Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials for the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives. She has held that position since 2004; the current ranking Member is Rep. Mike Capuano.
Ms. Homendy’s role is to advise the Democratic members of Congress on legislation involving railroads, the safety of oil and natural gas pipelines, and the transportation of hazardous materials. Homendy is certified by the International Association of Fire Fighters on Core HazMat Operations and Missions-Specific PPE and Product Control.
From 1999-04 she was a Legislative Representative for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Prior to that, Homendy worked for the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the National Federation of Independent Business. Homendy is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University.
The nomination of a Democratic Member of the NTSB has been well received and appears to have served as a catalyst for other nominations.
Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-South Dakota) states that Ms. Homendy was well qualified for the role, based on her “substantial experience in surface transportation will be valuable to the NTSB’s efforts”. The Chairman said that he will move for the nominations of Ms. Homendy and others (chairman Robert Sumwalt and members Earl Weener and Bella Dinh-Zarr) confirmations on May 22. Homendy acknowledged that she has spent the past 14 years on rail and pipeline safety and added she “is very eager to learn about aviation safety.”
At her nomination hearing, the nominee stressed the importance of public service, as well as the role the NTSB plays in saving lives. She added the agency provides “hope to grieving families that something positive will come from their tragic loss. I understand their need for answers.”
When questioned by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) on general aviation pilots’ rights and processes during enforcement appeals, Homendy responded that she would be “very happy” to work with his office on those concerns. She added that she has never rubber stamped anything, and, “I will approach every accident investigation that comes before the Board objectively looking at all sides of the issue.”
A very high NTSB priority recommendation for railroad safety is implementation of Positive Train Control. The Rail Industry supports this safety initiative, but analyses of recent fatal rail accidents still call for PTC implementation. “Member’ Homendy should use her Board position to an advocate for equipping trains with this technology. As with the addition of
computer controls of operation of vehicles, the operator-computer interface needs serious scrutiny. As she noted at her hearing, the nominee would be well-served to learn from the aviation experience. Automation of the cockpit has had its challenges and the relationship between the pilot/engineer and the computer will provides lessins for rail use of PTC.
Such intermodal integration was a founding motivation for the creation of the Department of Transportation (seldom used) and the NTSB (well utilized).
Good addition to the NTSB
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