The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approved the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to carry passengers in accordance with its normal standards and procedures. Those standards are now being called into question by the National Transportation Safety Board due to the problems that have been encountered since the 787 began flying. Several incidents, including an emergency landing and a battery fire last month, forced the FAA to ground the 787 and launch a full investigation into the aircraft.
Safety regulators have grounded all Boeing 787 Dreamliners until issues concerning the lithium-ion batteries and chargers have been addressed. Battery problems forced an emergency landing of a Dreamliner in Japan earlier this month. That incident followed a battery fire after a 787 landed in Boston. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is broadening the scope of its investigation into the electrical problems of the Boeing aircraft.
In 2006, the National Transportation Safety Board began an effort to improve safety in medical aircraft following a spike in the number of accidents nationwide. The progress of that initiative was called into question recently as two medical helicopters crashed on the same day, causing four injuries and three fatalities. Despite the attention of federal safety officials, medical aircraft crashes are still a significant concern.
In 2002, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a report criticizing the aerial firefighting capability of the U.S. Forest Service. A review of aviation accident reports from the NTSB shows that six people died in air tanker crashes while on firefighting missions this year. At least 22 have died in such accidents in the last 10 years. According to critics, the issues that caused the NTSB to issue that report in 2002 have not been addressed. The Forest Service continues to use outdated planes that are not ideally suited to battling wildfires.
The National Transportation Safety Board 10 Most Wanted Safety Improvements covers travel by road, rail and air. The list offers areas where all types of transportation can be made safer through, training, awareness and technological improvements. Over the following months, the NTSB will work with safety groups, industry leaders, regulators and individuals to make safety improvements that will reduce car accidents, aviation accidents, bus accidents and train accidents.
The National Transportation Safety Board published its conclusions regarding a single-engine airplane crash that occurred in Naperville in October 2010. The report concluded that the aviation accident was caused by the pilot's "failure to abort the takeoff when he realized the airplane was not attaining sufficient takeoff and climb performance." Shortly after the flight began, the plane crashed into a fitness club. The pilot and his wife were seriously injured in the accident, but the patrons and employees inside the fitness club were unharmed.
The National Transportation Safety Board recently released the testimony of the pilots involved in two separate near mid-air collisions out of O'Hare earlier this year. The pilots referred to the potential collisions as "near misses" and testified that the air traffic controllers involved did not issue warnings until after the pilots identified the danger and took evasive action. No injuries resulted from the incidents in question and the Federal Aviation Administration has not levied any discipline against the air traffic controllers involved.
An associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University referred to turbulence as "the last of the unanticipated threats," regarding air travel. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 63 people have been seriously injured by turbulence in flights over the United States since 2007. Many of those injured are flight attendants and other crew members who were unbuckled at the time of injury.
The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended the installation of anti-ground collision aids on large airplanes. Three ground collision accidents involving large planes hitting other aircraft during taxiing are currently under investigation by the NTSB. The recommendations, which were made to the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency, involved on-board external-mounted cameras which would allow pilots to see the wingtips of the plane while taxiing. Currently, pilots of larger planes would have to open a window in the cockpit and extend their heads outside the plane to view the wingtips.
Federal rules dictate how close together aircraft are allowed to fly. An incident involving three aircraft around Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. has prompted an FAA investigation, according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Early reports indicated that the planes were on a head-to-head course, but Mr. LaHood and FAA administrator Michael Huerta indicated that while "there was a loss of separation" among the aircraft, they were never on a collision course.