NTSB Issues "Most Wanted" List

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On Jan. 16 the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its annual “Most Wanted” list of needed improvements in transportation safety. The aviation-related items are a need to identify and communicate hazardous weather conditions to pilots, address the unique characteristics of helicopter operations, strengthen occupant protection, improve fire safety and eliminate pilot distractions. At a press conference Thursday, Board Chair Deborah Hersman pointed out that overall transportation safety in the U.S. is at the highest level it has been in history, but improvements are still needed.

In providing details on items on the “Most Wanted” list, the NTSB stated that 2/3 of general aviation accidents in IMC resulted in fatalities and called for improvements in both dissemination of weather information to pilots as well as education for pilots as to the capabilities and limitations of weather information presented. To reduce what it called unacceptable numbers of helicopter accidents, the NTSB said there was a need for manufacturers, operators, training organizations and regulatory agencies to address the unique characteristics of helicopter operations. The Board said that the failure to use occupant restraint systems continues to be a major concern and urged operators and regulators to require the use of child seats in aircraft for all children, not just those over the age of two. A need for better fire detection and suppression for aircraft carrying cargo made the list as did a recognition of and concern for the proliferation of portable electronic devices (PEDs) and the accompanying increase in the risk of an accident when the pilot is using a PED. Referencing a fatal helicopter accident due to fuel exhaustion that occurred while the pilot was texting, the NTSB called for the elimination of pilot distractions from PED use.