When Marion Blakey left the NTSB to take over the
FAA, that left Vice Chairman Carol Carmody in charge (by
However; with her term expiring this weekend, Ms. Carmody (a
Democrat) was expected to hit the road. Instead of
re-appointing Carmody to maintain her guardianship of the
Board, President Bush has appointed John Hammerschmidt to
become Vice Chairman of the NTSB... who then becomes acting
Chairman (again by default) when Carmody leaves.
Ms. Carmody had given a heads-up to White House Chief of
Staff Andy Card last Wednesday (the same day as the NC Beech 1900
commuter crash) to make sure that they understood that her
departure would leave no one running the show at NTSB when her term
ended, necessitating swift action.
Hammerschmidt, who has already served two
five-year terms as a board member (the last term ending just a few
days ago, on Dec. 31)... gets to keep his job and gets quite a
promotion, to boot. Board members are allowed to serve beyond their
terms, when a replacement member has yet to be appointed.
Before a "permanent" Chairman can be named, the Senate must
confirm the permanent appointment.
The NTSB Chairman holds some serious power in the transportation
industry... especially in the event of a major accident. The NTSB
Chairman allocates funding for investigations, coordinates with the
Department of Justice when potential criminal activity is
suspected, exercises subpoena power, and coordinates with
International Safety Boards.