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Overview of the National Transportation Safety Board
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an investigative agency that was formed by the government of the US. According to Hersman (2013, p.92), the main mandate of this government agency is to investigate all civil transportation accidents that happen in America and other parts of the world. The national transportation safety board is also charged with the responsibility of reporting accidents and incidents happening in the aviation industry, crashes on national highways, accidents by ships and other marine equipment, and mishaps witnessed in railroads and pipelines. In some cases, the national transportation safety board also helps the military in investigations involving various types of accidents. Moreover, Fielding, Lob, and Yang (2011, p.18) reveal how the NTSB also takes part in the investigations in cases where there are hazardous materials emitted on the environment.
Such spillage and release of harmful materials happen during transportation. The NTSB is headquartered at Washington, D.C. The agency also has nine regional offices, which are spread across the country. In a bid to ensure dissemination of safety information and professionalism in investigations, the agency trains safety and investigations at its training center situated at Ashburn in Virginia.
History of the NTSB and its foundation
The National transport safety board was created through the 1926 Air Commerce Act. Later, in 1967, the NTSB was made the principal bureau of command charged with the responsibility of inspecting catastrophes. Fielding, Lob, and Yang (2011, p.18) affirm that the government mandates the NTSB with the role of carrying out primary investigations on the highway, rail, aviation, pipeline, and marine accidents. During the formation, the NTSB comprised the majority of the Bureau of safety civil aeronautics board. The agency was also established with a very strong link with the department of transportation of the United States. However, the 1974 Independent Safety Board Act detached the two departments. Chapter 11 of the United States code gives the NTSB authority to carry out its mandate. The agency has investigated thousands of cases both in the United States and in foreign nations since its inception.
Roles of NTSB in aviation
The major role of the National Transportation Safety Board is to provide leadership in investigations that concern transport within its mandated areas. Such mishaps may involve railroad accidents, pipeline emergencies, road accidents, and aviation accidents. Fielding, Lob, and Yang (2011, p.17) affirm that civil aviation investigation experts from NTSB organize, manage, and carry out investigations. In case of an accident within the mandated areas of NTSB, the board comes up with a ‘go team.’ The team comprises various specialists in the field that concerns the accident. For example, if the accident involves a ship, professionals from the naval industry are involved in the team of investigators. The board also involves other investigation organizations in the process of carrying out its duties. Occasionally, the NTSB organizes public hearings in the course of carrying out its investigations.
During the public hearing, witnesses and interested parties are allowed to give their views. Some of the parties that may have direct involvement in the accident are also required to provide their statements to the investigation board during the public hearing. Public hearings make it possible for the citizenry and other interested parties to audit the process of investigation. In case the public realizes that there is mischief in the way the investigation is carried out, it can voice its opinion to the board either through an attorney or in person. This ensures transparency and trust of the process of investigation.
In some cases, the National Transportation Safety Board offers technical support to other investigative bodies. For example, if a disaster has direct connections with evil undertakings, the attorney general can advise other security agencies of the government to take over the investigation while the NTSB provides any key assistance. For example, although the case of September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorist had links with the transport industry, the attorney advised the federal department of justice to investigate the case. The department of justice, therefore, investigated the terrorist attack, with the NTSB only providing directive assistance.
In all investigations, the NTSB takes the primacy. However, in cases that involve the civil aviation industry, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has to be enjoined as a major party. Fielding, Lob, and Yang (2011, p.18) observe that the Federal Aviation Administration will normally carry out the investigation as an independent body while the NTSB is the main investigative agency in the whole process of investigation. For example, the National Transportation Safety Board will request the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry out the process of collecting basic facts concerning an accident. Bing (2012, p. 33777) reveals that the FAA gathers raw facts about the accident and forwards the information gathered to the NTSB. The FAA is well equipped with resources, which put it at a more advantageous point in the process of investigation. The NTSB receives the information and makes use of it during the investigation.
It is also the role of the NTSB to assist in accident investigation in other countries. Such investigations must attract the NTSB due to certain circumstances. For instance, according to Hersman (2013, p.92), if the accident or incident involves an aircraft that is owned or registered by America, the NTSB enters to assist in investigations. In other incidents, the NTSB investigates incidents and accidents that involve aircraft that have components manufactured in the United States of America or by companies that are affiliated to the US. Moreover, if a country with less resource invites the NTSB to assist in investigations of an accident, the board also takes the responsibility to aid the investigation in a bid to offer its recommendations.
Hersman (2013, p.92) affirms that the NTSB also plays the role of a court of appeal for certified aviation companies, pilots, air personnel, aviation mechanics, mariners, and cabin crews that face charges or have their licenses suspended by various authorities, for example by the federal government. However, although the court serves an appellate court role, its decision may be appealed further by any losing party to the federal court system. The FAA may also appeal the case for the losing party to the federal court. Therefore, the NTSB also provides justice to aviation employees.
NTSB Reporting Requirements
The NTSB reporting requirements aim at providing safety recommendations for the transport industry. These reporting requirements are in various fields of transport. For example, in the highway industry, the board-reporting requirement recommends the implementation of graduate driver licensing laws. Such laws will guide the issuance of licenses to young drivers upon advising that drinking should be strictly for adults above 21 years and that vehicles should be fitted with smart airbags for the safety of the drivers.
Brake lights for all vehicles should be highly positioned so that other drivers that may be behind the vehicle can see the vehicle slowing down from far. Also, the report recommends improvement in the way school buses are constructed to make them more stable. According to Hart (2013, p.519), the reporting recommendation in the aviation industry requires that aircraft be fitted with mid-air collision avoidance technology, detectors of airborne wind sheers and alert devices, warning devices that inform the crew of the ground distance, smoke detectors, fuel tanks, and floor-level escape lighting. These technologies ensure air safety.
In the marine industry, the report recommends the industry to implement “recreational boating safety, carry out fire safety on ships, and equip fishing vessels with lifesaving devices” (Guzzetti, 2013, p.20). Guzzetti (2013, p.20) asserts that the reporting also recommends the pipeline industry to provide excavation damage protection equipment and provide the necessary measures to prevent pipe corrosion. The pipeline industry should also offer remote shutoff valves that can be controlled from far in case of an accident or incident.
How the Agency may affect Aviation Rulemaking
The NTSB may affect the aviation rule making process in various ways. Since the agency is created through an act of parliament, it has powers to influence government decisions. The federal and state governments depend on NTSB to provide recommendations after investigating an incident or accident. Bing (2012, p.33777) argues that the government takes the role of implementing the recommendations since the NTSB has no authority to implement its recommendation. Such recommendations may affect how the aviation industry makes rules. Guzzetti (2013, p.20) asserts that the federal government also observes the annual recommendation that NTSB makes for use as a blue print to guide the aviation industry of the US. Also, the NTSB provides recommendations on how aircraft are constructed and fitted in a bid to promote safer transport (Norris, 2013, p. 34). Such recommendations will also affect rule making. Foreign nations also seek guidance from NTSB in case of an accident. The recommendations that the agency makes after investigations may also affect rule making in the aviation industry.
Bing, R. (2012). General Aviation Safety Forum: Climbing to the Next Level. Federal Register, 77(110), 33777-33777. Web.
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Fielding, E., Lob, W., & Yang, H. (2011). The National Transportation Safety Board: A Model For Systemic Risk Management. Journal of Investment Management, 9(1), 17-49. Web.
Guzzetti, B. (2013). Is the Federal Aviation Administration Making Sufficient Progress on Safety Initiatives? Congressional Digest, 92(6), 19-31. Web.
Hart, S. (2013). The Crash of Cougar Flight 491: A Case Study of Offshore Safety and Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 113(3), 519-541. Web.
Hersman, O. (2013). Is the Federal Aviation Administration Making Sufficient Progress on Safety Initiatives? Congressional Digest, 92(6), 18-30. Web.
Norris, G. (2013). Down to the Wire. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 175(11), 34-34. Web.