News

HONORABLE ROBERT L. SUMWALT

MEMBER

Robert L. Sumwalt was sworn in as the 37th Member of the National Transportation Safety Board on August 21, 2006, whereupon President Bush designated him as Vice Chairman of the Board for a two-year term, ending August 2008. His term of office as a Board Member will run until December 31, 2011.

Prior to coming to the Board, Mr. Sumwalt was Manager of Aviation for the SCANA Corporation, a Fortune 500 energy-based company.

Mr. Sumwalt was a pilot for 32 years, including 24 years as an airline pilot with Piedmont Airlines and then US Airways. He logged over 14,000 flight hours and earned type ratings in five aircraft before retiring from the airline in 2005. He has extensive experience as an airline captain, airline check airman, instructor pilot and air safety representative.

Mr. Sumwalt worked on special assignment to the US Airways Flight Safety Department from 1997 to 2004, where he was involved in the development of numerous airline safety programs, including an enhanced crew awareness program and a windshear training program. From 2002 to 2004, he served on the US Airways Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) Monitoring Team.

Mr. Sumwalt served as a member of the Air Line Pilots Association's (ALPA) Accident Investigation Board from 2002 to 2004, and also worked with ALPA's Aviation Weather Committee on improving the quality of weather products available to pilots. He has chaired ALPA's Human Factors and Training Group and was a co-founder of that organization's Critical Incident Response Program, which provides guidance to airline personnel involved in traumatic events such as accidents.

A trained accident investigator prior to joining the Safety Board, Mr. Sumwalt participated in several NTSB investigations including the crash of USAir flight 427 in 1994 near Aliquippa PA, and USAir flight 861 near Birmingham Alabama in 1998. He also participated in the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's investigation of the accident involving Swissair flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1998.

From 1991 to 1999, Mr. Sumwalt conducted aviation safety research as a consultant to NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System, studying various issues including flight crew performance and air carrier de-icing and anti-icing problems.

Mr. Sumwalt has co-authored a book on aircraft accidents and has written extensively on aviation safety matters, having published over 85 articles and papers in aviation trade publications. He has broad experience in writing aircraft operations manuals and airline and corporate aviation policy and procedure guidelines. Before joining the Board, he was a regular contributor to Professional Pilot magazine.

In 2003, Mr. Sumwalt joined the faculty of the University of Southern California's Aviation Safety and Security Program, where he was the primary human factors instructor.

In recognition of his contributions to the aviation industry, Mr. Sumwalt received the Flight Safety Foundation's Laura Taber Barbour Award in 2003 and ALPA's Air Safety Award in 2004.

Since joining the Board, the Mr. Sumwalt has served as the Member on-scene for the following accidents: a collision between an Amtrak passenger train and a standing Norfolk Southern freight train in Chicago, Illinois, November 30, 2007; a liquid propane pipeline rupture and explosion in Carmichael, Mississippi, November 1, 2007; an aviation accident in which a twin-engine Cessna 310R airplane impacted homes in a residential area in Sanford, Florida, July 10, 2007; and the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, October 20, 2006. Mr. Sumwalt also accompanied the NTSB Go-Team to Lexington, Kentucky for the on-site investigation of the August 27, 2006 crash of Comair flight 5191.

Mr. Sumwalt is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.

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