Handoffs: Jim Hall to Marion Blakey

 - May 28, 2008, 7:55 AM

Former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) boss Marion Blakey became the ninth chairperson of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), taking over from Jim Hall in late September. Hall resigned last January after seven years with the independent safety agency, six of them as chairman.

Blakey previously served in a number of positions in government, of which NHTSA Administrator was the most recent (1992-1993). As the nation’s leading highway safety official, she was charged with reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes.

Before that, she served in five government departments and agencies, including the Transportation, Commerce and Education departments; the White House; and the National Endowment for the Humanities. For the past eight years she had been the principal of Blakey & Associates, a Washington public affairs consulting firm particularly focusing on transportation issues and traffic safety.

Blakey quickly got immersed in NTSB investigations, first presiding over the public meeting in late October at which the Safety Board adopted its final report on the June 1999 crash of American Airlines Flight 1420 in Little Rock, Ark., and then as the board’s on-site representative at the November 12 crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in New York.

Hall told AIN early last year that he made his decision to leave the NTSB in early 2000, about the time he would have had to tell Congress whether he wanted to be reappointed to another two years as chairman. He said his departure would give him the opportunity to earn more money for his family, and he felt that the change in administrations was the opportune time.

Hall helped conceive the NTSB’s new training academy, which is being built near Washington Dulles International Airport, and his last official act was breaking ground for it on January 18 last year.