...And NTSB Struggles To Resolve Safety Issues

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For the first time since 1975, the number of "open" safety recommendations on the NTSB's books has dipped below 1,000, the board reported Monday. "Open recommendations mean that the safety loop is not closed -- open recommendations mean that our job is not done," said NTSB Chairwoman Ellen Engleman Conners. The current number of open safety recommendations is now 989, and 335 of those are aviation-related. Some recommendations that have been resolved in the last six months, according to the board, include better terrain depictions on aviation charts and maps, spurred by the 1995 crash of an American Airlines 757 that hit a mountain ridge on a nighttime approach to Cali, Colombia, killing 160 of the 164 on board. Others include inspection and replacement of static port heaters on MD-80, MD-90, and DC-9 aircraft to prevent fires; and new rules requiring air traffic controllers to state an aircraft's location in relation to the takeoff runway when a combination of intersection and full-length departures is routinely being used at an airport. This is aimed at addressing an issue that has long been on the board's "Most Wanted" list: runway incursions. Since its inception in 1967, the safety board has issued more than 12,100 safety recommendations and has recorded a success rate of almost 82 percent, the NTSB said.