More than 2,400 airplanes and helicopters operated by the federal government, known as "public aircraft," are not subject to FAA rules, and this week the NTSB is holding a two-day forum to examine the safety record of these operations. Public aircraft are used for high-risk endeavors such as firefighting, law enforcement, and search and rescue. "We have had accidents in the last few years where we go on scene and we still find confusion and a lack of clarity over who is responsible for oversight," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman told Bloomberg News. "We are holding this forum to try to create a downward trend when it comes to fatalities and injuries in public aviation."
Seven panels are scheduled to be presented during the two-day forum. Speakers will be questioned by a technical panel composed of NTSB staff and board members. Thursday's forum will be webcast live online at the NTSB website. Since 2007, 52 people have died in public aircraft accidents, including nine killed in the crash of a firefighting helicopter in August 2008.