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New NTSB Publication Is A Trip Back In Time

Examines 30-Year History Of Transportation Safety Improvements

On its 30th anniversary as a separate, independent agency, the National Transportation Safety Board Wednesday issued a new publication that examines the safety improvements that have resulted from over three decades of transportation accident investigations.

Titled "NTSB: Lessons Learned and Lives Saved," the publication surveys safety measures inspired by NTSB recommendations in all modes of transportation - aviation, railroad, highway, marine, and pipeline and hazardous materials.

"We firmly believe that out of tragedy, good must come," said Board Chairman Ellen Engelman Conners.  "We try to learn as much as possible from each accident investigation and make practical, focused recommendations aimed at saving lives, reducing injuries, and preventing similar accidents in the future."

The NTSB opened its doors on April 1, 1967.  Initially, although operationally independent, it relied on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for funding and administrative support.  In 1975, after passage the previous year of the Independent Safety Board Act, all organizational ties to DOT and its modal agencies were severed.

Thirty years on, the NTSB has issued more than 12,000 recommendations to over 2,000 recipients in the transportation community - the regulatory and private sectors of the various transportation modes.  Since the Board does not have rulemaking or enforcement powers, recommendations are the primary tools used to pursue safety improvements.

The Board's reputation for impartiality, technical competence, and for careful examination of the facts and circumstances of an accident has enabled it to achieve an 80-percent-plus acceptance rate for its recommendations.

The list of significant NTSB safety recommendation subjects include those made in aviation. Among them:

  • Windshear alert and detection equipment upgrades and training
  • Anti-collision devices on airliners and cargo airplanes
  • Advanced ground proximity warning systems
  • Fail-safe thrust reverse systems on jet engines
  • Measures for dealing with aircraft icing and structural fatigue

While celebrating the Board's 30-year milestone and its record of conducting objective, independent investigations, Chairman Engleman Conners noted that the NTSB's work was not finished.  "The Board will continue to build on its safety history and aggressively advocate adoption and implementation of our recommendations," she said.   "We are committed to ensuring that the hard-earned lessons derived from our investigations are not forgotten."

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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