An investigation into a 2011 Asiana Airlines fire prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to call for stricter rules about the transport of lithium-ion batteries. The batteries in question are used in a number of applications, including cell phones, laptops and cars. The rechargeable batteries can heat up and ignite if they become damaged or are exposed to extreme temperatures. Proper storage and packaging of these batteries is necessary to combat the risk of fire.
The more time that passes following an accident, the harder it is to determine the cause of that accident. The National Transportation Safety Board is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to make several changes it hopes will allow plane crashes to be found faster and will aid in investigating those crashes. The eight recommendations from the NTSB to the FAA were outlined in a 13-page letter this week. The FAA promised to review the recommendations and prepare a formal response.
The National Transportation Safety Board lists general aviation among its top ten advocacy priorities in 2014. According to the NTSB, general aviation accidents make up the vast majority of aviation-related deaths in the U.S. The NTSB has been charged with conducting investigations into aviation accidents for nearly 50 years and has conducted numerous safety studies to improve aviation safety. Not all aviation incidents are treated equally, however. An analysis conducted by USA Today shows that aviation accidents involving prominent, politically-connected people or celebrities receive substantially more attention from NTSB investigators than other crashes.
A fatal cargo jet crash that happened last August may have had several warning signs, according to data presented to the National Transportation Safety Board on the fatal accident. The UPS cargo jet accident happened in Alabama last summer after two UPS pilots tried to land at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent federal body with a number of safety-related responsibilities. It is charged with investigating all civil aviation accidents, as well as significant accidents in railroad, marine and highway transportation situations. It also conducts safety studies, puts forth safety recommendations and assists the victims of transportation accidents and their families. During the partial government shutdown, the majority of NTSB employees have been furloughed. As a result, a number of investigations are currently on hold. The head of the NTSB has asked the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to take the necessary steps to allow the group to resume its safety mission.
The National Transportation Safety Board has issued new recommendations regarding the use of personal electronic devices. The new guidelines were, in part, the result of the NTSB investigation into the August 2011 crash of Eurocopter AS350 B2 in Missouri. That crash claimed four lives. The NTSB issued nine new recommendations, including seven sent to the Federal Aviation Administration and two more sent to Air Methods, the company operating the crashed medical helicopter. The crash was the first aviation accident in which text messaging by the pilot was cited as a factor contributing to the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board recently concluded a two-day hearing into the problems with the lithium ion battery system used in Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. After several incidents involving the system, all 787s were grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year. The hearing did not reach a conclusion as to the cause of the overheating batteries. The investigation into the overheating, including at least one situation where the batteries started a fire, is expected to continue for several months.
Federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have indicated that text messaging by the pilot in a fatal 2011 medical helicopter crash contributed to the accident. Texting and flying was not the only contributing factor to the aviation incident listed by the NTSB, but it did mark the first time that text messaging was cited as a contributing factor in a commercial aviation accident. The crash claimed the lives of four people, including the pilot, a nurse, a paramedic and the patient the helicopter had picked up
The National Transportation Safety Board has listed general aviation safety on its Most Wanted List of safety improvements for three consecutive years. Following last month's fatal plane crash in South Bend, Indiana, the NTSB issued five safety alerts intended to make general aviation safer. The NTSB cited the fact that more than 1,500 GA accidents occur per year in the United States and that the majority of those accidents are preventable. The safety alerts offer practical remedies to problems that are commonly associated with general aviation accidents.
Boeing executives gave a media briefing in Tokyo on March 15 regarding the 787 Dreamliner and the investigations into the problems with the lithium ion batteries. The National Transportation Safety Board is taking issue with that briefing and the company's discussion of the NTSB investigation into the January 7 fire involving the plane and additional problems related to the battery and electrical systems in the Dreamliner. The NTSB is concerned that Boeing provided its own, unauthorized analysis of the ongoing NTSB investigation. An attorney for the NTSB made it clear that the organization expected Boeing to inform investigators of the content of its remarks before making them during an investigation still under way.