On March 6, Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana introduced H.R. 1562, the Commercial Space Transportation Safety Act of 2019.  The bill’s text, which became available only recently, indicates that its main purpose is “to provide certain authority to the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate commercial space transportation accidents.” 
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In issuing its 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements last month and in holding a recent public meeting, the National Transportation Safety Board has renewed its efforts in identifying safety gaps in Part 135 [Code of Federal Regulations, title 14, Part 135] aviation operations and recommending actions that the Federal Aviation Administration and Part 135 operators to eliminate preventable crashes.
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Now in its third week, the impact of the current partial federal government shutdown has been widely felt and reported. In addition to the impacts on federal employees subject to furlough (defined in Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations as “the placing of an employee in a temporary status without duties and pay because of lack of work or funds or other nondisciplinary reasons”), contractors, and their respective families, significant attention is also focused on federal employees, such as FAA air traffic controllers and TSA security screeners, who are not furloughed but continue to perform their duties in the absence of funding to pay their salaries.
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Wow! The clock is ticking and The 2019 Aviation Symposium is rapidly approaching.

Our opening panel will focus upon accidents/incidents/events outside the United States. Nimbus Airlines will (in all likelihood), shortly before the Symposium, experience an issue somewhere in the world.

Our crystal ball tells us there will be serious injuries, possibly a fatality, a criminal investigation, language and cultural issues, time zone problems and more. So get ready for an energetic and thought provoking discussion/panel.
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–Executives, employees and contractors should know the specifics of federal agency’s process, caution attorneys; Massachusetts explosions highlight NTSB’s role in oil and gas sector.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is well known for its sleuthing on plane crashes. However, oil and gas executives often need better education about how the agency tackles one of its other responsibilities—investigating pipeline accidents, advise veteran attorneys with our national law firm.

The catastrophic gas explosions that destroyed dozens of homes in Massachusetts this month have called attention to the NTSB’s role in investigating such incidents, noted Mark A. Dombroff,  co-leader of our Transportation Industry practice. “Most, but not all, in the pipeline business are aware that something like this will immediately trigger a federally mandated and led investigation,” he said. “But their counterparts in aviation tend to be far better prepared to contend with the highly specific—and high-stakes—investigative process relied upon by NTSB.”
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For the first time since April 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board will soon have a full complement of Board members. On July 24, 2018, the U.S. Senate confirmed the President’s nominations of Bruce Landsberg and Jennifer Homendy to serve as Board members. This is particularly welcome news because since January 31 of this year when former chairman and Board member Christopher Hart departed the agency, the NTSB has been operating with only three Board Members — the minimum number of members needed to meet the statutory requirement for a quorum to conduct official agency business.

Under the statute that addresses the appointment and terms of NTSB Board members, 49 U.S.C. § 1111, the Board is composed of five members appointed by the President, by and with the consent of the U.S. Senate.  The statute specifies that the term of office of each member is five years; however, “an individual appointed to fill a vacancy occurring before the expiration of the term for which the predecessor of that individual was appointed, is appointed for the remainder of that term.”


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In previous Plane-ly Spoken blogs (NTSB Reauthorization–Part I, and NTSB Reauthorization–Part II), we discussed and summarized the key provisions of S.2202, the National Transportation Reauthorization Act.  Senator Thune introduced this bill in the U.S. Senate on December 6, 2017, with co-sponsors Senators Blunt, Booker, Cantwell, Fischer, and Nelson.  The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation considered the bill and, on December13, 2017, approved it by voice vote and ordered it to be reported favorably with an amendment by Senator (and Commerce Committee Chairman) Thune.

The Committee’s issued its report accompanying S. 2202 on July 10, 2018. Senate Report 115-293 contains little information that we did not otherwise address in our two earlier posts.  Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect about the Committee’s report is that it took nearly seven months to issue.  Unlike the FAA Reauthorization bill, Congressional efforts showed little urgency to reauthorize the NSTB.  In fact, Congress last enacted NTSB reauthorization legislation in December 2006 (covering fiscal years 2007 and 2008 only) and the House of Representatives has not introduced its version of a current reauthorization bill.


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The NTSB increasingly focuses its attention on pipeline accidents and pipeline operators as no major domestic air crash has occurred in nearly a decade. Since January 1, 2008, the NTSB has launched 20 major investigations of pipeline accidents and issued numerous pipeline accident reports. These investigations fuel civil lawsuits, significant public attention, regulatory scrutiny, criminal

Thank you for the amazing turnout yesterday during our 90 minute webinar on the inside workings of the National Transportation Safety Board.  David Tochen, former NTSB General Counsel, Mark Dombroff and Mark McKinnon discuss background information, recent investigations such as the sinking of the S.S. El Faro, and so much more.

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