NTSB Releases Its 2010 List Of ‘Most Wanted’ Transportation Safety Improvements: Aircraft Icing and Reducing Operator Fatigue Included

In the middle of February, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced its 2010 Federal Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, addressing concerns in the areas of rail, marine, aviation and highway safety. Each issue within the individual areas was assigned a status color related to actions taken thus far in response to the safety issues: Red (“unacceptable”), Yellow (“acceptable-progressing slowly”) or Green (“acceptable response-progressing in a timely manner”).

While the NTSB identified several safety improvements within each specific area, it also announced a single safety objective integral to all of them: reducing accidents caused by human fatigue. The Board designated the response to the human fatigue concern as Red, saying that the Board “has been long concerned about the effects of fatigue on persons performing critical functions in all modes of transportation,” and that “working hour limits should be based on the latest fatigue research.” The Board pinpointed both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, flagging as Red the responsive actions of both agencies.

The Most Wanted safety improvements designated level Red in the highway category include: “Require Electronic Onboard Data Recorders” and “Improve the Safety of Motor Carrier Operations”. The Board specifically cites the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for its failure to respond appropriately.

In the area of aviation, the safety concerns maintaining Red status include “Reduce Dangers to Aircraft Flying in Icing Conditions” and “Require Image Recorders” in airplane cockpits. According to the Board, flight data recorders alone “do not show the critical cockpit environment leading up to [an] emergency,” and the Board states it has requested the installation of image recorders for large transport category aircraft.

The aviation attorneys at Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., are very familiar with the concept and utility of cockpit image recorders and the safety improvements that would result from their use. Founding Partner, David Rapoport, and Managing Partner, Paul Richter, authored and published a comprehensive and on-point article entitled “Cockpit Image Recorders: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” which explores the need for such supervision in the cockpit and the roadblocks in opposition of such safety measures.

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