NTSB Chair Rosenker Predicts GA Recovery

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NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker told the Wichita Aero Club this week that private aviation has unfairly become a "political punching bag" and he believes the industry will rebound quickly and decisively from the current hard times. "The world's economy depends upon a robust air transportation system and general aviation and airline travel is absolutely a vital component of that global system," he said. "It is for this reason that I believe aviation will soon fly out of the turbulence that surrounds it today." He advised the industry leaders to get out and lobby for their cause. "Everyone in this room knows the benefits of business aviation, but many outside this room don't get it, so I would advise that you increase your outreach to the public, and Washington, D.C., to heal that black eye." He said that he believes in working in partnership with industry, rather than imposing regulations, to improve safety. He also said he expects to establish minimum performance requirements for lightweight flight recorders for GA aircraft by sometime this summer. "If recorder systems that captured cockpit audio, images, and parametric data had been installed on the Butte accident airplane [the Pilatus PC-12/45 that crashed on March 22], the recorders would have enabled us to quickly determine information about the accident scenario, including precise locations, altitudes, headings, airspeeds, and pilot actions," he said.

Rosenker also said that his agency is concerned about a recent spike in fatalities in on-demand Part 135 air charter operations, including air medical, air taxi and air tour flights. These flights logged over 3.6 million flight hours in 2008 and had 56 accidents, killing 66 people -- the highest number of fatalities since 2000. "There's a lot of room for improvement in this area," he said, "[and] we continue to do everything we can to identify the safety issues involved, and to advocate for the adoption of our recommendations that will make the skies safer." Click here for the full text of Rosenker's talk.