Senate Extends Terms of NTSB's Sumwalt, Homendy

 - August 6, 2019, 11:15 AM

The Senate completed consideration of a flurry of nominations before heading toward the August break, including the reconfirmations of Robert Sumwalt as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Jennifer Homendy as a member of the Board.

This comes in addition to the approval last month of Stephen Dickson as the next FAA Administrator and of a waiver that would enable Dan Elwell, who had been acting administrator, to return to the deputy administrator’s post. Nominations are handled in the Senate, but the House was required to also approve the waiver for Elwell.

Both Sumwalt and Homendy were approved by voice vote. Sumwalt, who was renominated in July to the chairman’s position, was approved for a three-year term. Meanwhile, the White House in January had renominated Homendy to a five-year term as a member of the NTSB. Her term has now been extended until Dec. 31, 2024.

The Senate, however, has not yet acted on the nomination of Textron Aviation executive Michael Graham to fulfill the remainder of the NTSB term in place of Earl Weener. In addition, the White House is vetting candidates for a final opening on the Board and is said to be looking at another possibility with a strong knowledge of both commercial and general aviation safety.

Along with Sumwalt and Homendy, the only other Board member currently is vice chairman Bruce Landsberg. The NTSB obtained a rare full complement of five members last summer, but that lasted just a few months, as both Weener and Bella Dinh-Zarr left this year.

The appointments come at a time when the NTSB has placed a spotlight on Part 135 safety. National Air Transportation president Gary Dempsey praised Sumwalt as a “great friend and champion of safety in our community” and added the association “applauds Chairman Sumwalt’s leadership in promoting the continuous improvement of safety and we look forward to continuing to work with him and Member Homendy in advancing the agency’s initiatives.”