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.
Queens, New York City
Marion Blakey took over the National Transportation Safety Board as its ninth chairman just in time to enter the maelstrom surrounding last November’s crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in New York. Through frequent media briefings in the days following the accident, she helped allay the fears of an American public–still jittery over air travel–that the crash was caused by another terrorist attack.
Investigations of aircraft accidents–referred to in the past as “kicking tin”–are taking a decidedly high-tech turn, and NTSB chairman Marion Blakey predicted that crash probes are going to be driven increasingly by issues involving high-tech safety systems, integrated computer programs, high-grade materials and electronically generated data and data analysis.
American Airlines and the copilot of Flight 587 are officially being blamed for the November 2001 crash of an Airbus A300 after the vertical tail separated in flight seconds after takeoff. More than 260 people were killed when the airliner fell into a New York City neighborhood.
While the NTSB determined that “unnecessary and too aggressive” rudder inputs by the first officer broke the vertical stabilizer off American Airlines Flight 587, there was plenty of blame to spread among the airline, U.S. and French aviation regulators and Airbus Industrie, builder of the A300-605R that crashed into the community of Belle Harbor, N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2001.