NTSB’s Chealander Resigns

 - February 20, 2009, 6:10 AM

The NTSB member who has served as the board’s on-scene spokesman for the investigation into the February 12 crash of a Colgan Air Q400 outside Buffalo has just announced his resignation from the board, effective at the end of this month.

A Safety Board member since January 3, 2007, Steven Chealander has accepted a position with Airbus in Miami as Airbus Americas vice president of technical training.

The White House has not announced a replacement for Chealander, and an NTSB spokesman told AIN that the board will operate as usual with four members until if and when President Obama names a new nominee. A quorum for the NTSB is three members, said the spokesman. “[Chealander’s] term expired about a year and some months ago,” said the spokesman. “He was actually re-nominated last year, but then nothing happened and then the Congress ended. So right now there’s no pending nomination for his seat.”

Chealander served as the on-scene official for two other major transportation accidents–a midair  collision between two news helicopters in Phoenix, Ariz. in 2007 and last year’s crash of a Hawker 800 in Owatonna, Minn.  

Before his tenure with the NTSB, Chealander worked for American Airlines, serving since 1991 as a pilot and captain qualified on the DC-10, 737, MD-80 and Fokker 100, and as a chief pilot in Los Angeles. He also spent time as a flight safety manager, performing safety and compliance audits and participating in investigations, finally as manager of flight operations efficiency.

From 1964 to 1991, Chealander served in the U.S. Air Force, with tours of duty in Vietnam and Spain. An F-4 pilot and instructor pilot, and then a USAF Aggressor pilot, Chealander became a member of the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, in 1981. He flew with the team until 1985, when he took an assignment as a staff officer at Tactical Air Command Headquarters at Langley AFB in Virginia. In 1986, Chealander served as a military aide to President Ronald Reagan.

Chealander sent a letter of resignation to President Barack Obama yesterday: “I wish you and your administration well as you lead America through the challenges facing this great nation of ours... It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life to work with the professional career employees of the NTSB, not to mention the four other dedicated Presidential appointees that constitute the Board,” he wrote.