Hart returns to NTSB; two vacancies remain

 - August 26, 2009, 12:17 PM

The swearing in of Christopher Hart as a member of the NTSB on August 12 was followed immediately by the departure of former chairman Mark Rosenker, leaving the five-member independent agency with a quorum, but also with two vacancies.

Hart, a commercial pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings, joins the Board after a long career in transportation safety, including a previous term as a member of the NTSB. On August 20 President Obama designated Hart the Board’s vice chairman.

Most recently he was deputy director for air traffic safety oversight at the FAA. He was previously the assistant administrator for the FAA’s Office of System Safety and had been with the agency since 1995.

Hart served as a member of the NTSB from 1990 to 1993. After leaving the Board, he took a position as deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration until he joined the FAA.

He holds a law degree from Harvard University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in aerospace engineering from Princeton University. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association. From 1973 until he joined the Board in 1990, Hart held a series of legal positions, mostly in the private sector.

With Hart’s swearing in, the Board will have two pilots as members for at least two years. Robert Sumwalt is a former airline and corporate pilot. His term expires Dec. 31, 2011. Hart’s term of office will expire Dec. 31, 2012.

Both Rosenker and board member Kathryn (Kitty) O’Leary Higgins submitted resignations to President Obama in July. Higgins sent hers on July 20, effective August 3.

Rosenker submitted his the next day but agreed to delay his departure until a new chairman and an additional Board member were confirmed to ensure a quorum remained. Deborah Hersman, who already had been a Board member for five years, was sworn in as chairman on July 28. She also was appointed to a second five-year term, which expires Dec. 31, 2013.

Rosenker had led the NTSB as chairman or acting chairman since March 2005, and until July was serving his second five-year term as a member. A retired Air Force major general who worked in the George W. Bush White House, he had been nominated by Bush for a second two-year term as chairman, but he was never confirmed by the Democrat-controlled Senate. His two-year term as chairman expired in August 2008.

He is joining Sequa, a holding company whose largest business unit is Chromalloy, a worldwide supplier of gas turbine engine repairs, components and PMA replacement parts.