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AOPA, NTSB meet on aviation safety, accident reportingAOPA, NTSB meet on aviation safety, accident reporting

The National Transportation Safety Board will participate in periodic meetings with AOPA and other aviation organizations in a joint effort to improve flight safety by establishing a regular channel for airing concerns and proposing solutions.

The NTSB's Robert Sumwalt, Earl Weener, John DeLisi, and Tim LeBaron visit with AOPA's Mark Baker, Richard McSpadden, Ken Mead, Jim Coon, Katie Pribyl, Tom Haines, and other AOPA staff April 21, 2017, in Frederick, Maryland. Photo by David Tulis.

AOPA hosted Acting NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt, Board Member Earl F. Weener, Office of Aviation Safety Director John DeLisi, and Senior Aviation Investigator Tim LeBaron in a visit to AOPA headquarters April 21, where they joined AOPA President Mark Baker and a senior management delegation from AOPA and the Air Safety Institute in a wide-ranging discussion of aviation safety.

The discussion touched on ways to most accurately characterize the probable causes published in NTSB accident reports. AOPA had expressed concerns to the NTSB in March about several accident reports in which findings of pilot medical incapacitation did not appear to be supported by the evidence.

There was agreement that it was important for accident investigation reports to “connect the dots” to avoid any appearance of speculation about the probable cause.

Baker shared with the NTSB members AOPA’s work with the FAA and industry on ways to more effectively equip the general aviation fleet with modern safety equipment. Simplifying certification pathways “will help with continuing the downward trajectory of fatal accidents that we have experienced over the past 20 years,” and could help eliminate loss-of-control accidents from the NTSB’s list of most-wanted safety improvements.

In September 2016, the NTSB released statistics confirming that GA accidents continued to decline, noting that the GA fatality rate for 2015 was the lowest it had been in many years. The total number of accidents declined from 2014, as did the rate of accidents per 100,000 flight hours, the agency said.

The NTSB officials toured AOPA headquarters and viewed a presentation about AOPA’s 78-year history of supporting GA and promoting aviation safety and education. They were briefed on the Air Safety Institute’s work to serve as the leading influence in pursuit of a world without fatal GA accidents.

The presentation also highlighted the AOPA Fly-Ins that have been attended by 44,000 people and 6,000 aircraft (with the 2017 fly-in schedule set to begin in Camarillo, California, on April 28 and 29); and an introduction to AOPA’s You Can Fly initiative. You Can Fly is AOPA’s umbrella program that pursues targeted efforts to build the pilot population by supporting flying clubs and flight schools; advancing high school science, technology, engineering, and math education; and getting lapsed aviators flying again through the seminars of the Rusty Pilots program.

Baker expressed appreciation for Sumwalt’s leadership and for his and the NTSB’s “willingness to listen and address our concerns.”

Representatives from AOPA will pay a return visit to the NTSB at the first quarterly meeting to discuss aviation safety.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Air Safety Institute, You Can Fly

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