NTSB's Close Watch Over New Technologies

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Jeff Guzzetti, the NTSB's deputy director for regional operations, told AVweb on Tuesday the board is keeping an eye on about a dozen different GA safety issues, many of them involving new technologies. He said the board will be "monitoring very closely" the introduction of very light jets (VLJs). "We'll be very attuned to the operational aspects. We're expecting to see a lot of propeller pilots moving into faster-moving aircraft, and that raises potential issues," he said. He added that the NTSB already has seen three serious accidents in flight testing with VLJ prototypes -- Sino-Swearingen, Spectrum, and Excel Jet -- and investigators have their "eyes and ears perked up" to watch for user-interface issues regarding the VLJs. If there are safety problems with new aircraft, those problems tend to appear early on, Guzzetti said, as the airplanes enter the market and get into the hands of real pilots in real situations. Glass cockpits and new technologies such as GPS systems are also being closely watched to catch any problems early on.