NTSB Gets New Interim Chairman

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President Bush on Tuesday appointed John Hammerschmidt to the vice chairmanship of the NTSB, and he will also be acting chairman until a replacement for Marion Blakey is nominated by the White House and approved by the Senate. Carol Carmody's term as vice chairman was set to expire on Saturday. Blakey left last year to take over as FAA administrator. Carmody, a Democrat, had lobbied the White House last week to make a decision, as the deadline approached. Under the safety board's rules of operation, only the chairman or acting chairman can assign work, spend money, appoint and supervise staff, and authorize an accident investigation. Hammerschmidt, a Republican, has been a member of the board since 1991. He participated in dozens of investigations, including the 2000 Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash near California and the 1994 USAir DC-9 accident at Charlotte, N.C. He holds a private pilot certificate.