Air Transport World

Trouble with NTSB. (editorial)

The National Transportation Safety Board usually does such a good job that it largely goes unnoticed here in Washington, especially during those wonderful accident-free periods. Such a period ended recently, and the safety board regrettably has been called upon to exercise its considerable expertise to tell us what went wrong and how to keep it from happening again.

NTSB has established a reputation for thorough, professional, objective investigations that is highly held worldwide. That reputation is in jeopardy these days, partly through a lack of attention from the White House and partly due to internal machinations at the NTSB itself.

The Reagan administration until last month was unable to nominate new members to long-standing safety board vacancies. It has been 18 months since all five seats at the board have been filled, and a year since the number of sitting members was cut to three. Perhaps it is the board's relative invisibility during accident-free times that helps the White House overlook its duties. …

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