Head of NTSB Steps Down in Middle of Aircraft Disappearance Investigation

Image via Flickr by Leader Nanci Pelosi

Deborah Hersman, the public face and chair person of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, plans to step down from her position next month to accept a new position as president and chief executive officer of the National Safety Council. This is a safety advocacy group in Itasca, Illinois. The vice chair person of the NTSB, Christopher Hart, is taking her place when she vacates the position on April 25. The announcement comes just as the U.S. gears up to aid Maylasia and other Asian nations in the search for the missing flight MH370, the Boeing 777 flight that disappeared after taking off from Kuala Lumpur this past sunday. Two hundred thirty-nine passengers and crew members disappeared along with the plane.

Hersman has seen the country through a number of high-profile transportation accidents during her decade of service. She led the investigation into the battery problems that kept the Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft grounded for several weeks early in 2013. She also headed the investigation into the crash of the Asian Airlines Inc jet at the San Francisco International Airport in July of 2013.

Hersman also worked with a number of investigations that did not involve aircraft, including the commuter train which derailed in the Bronx in New York City in December of 2013, as well as the tanker ship which collided with the container ship in the Huston Ship Canal in 2011. Hersman had just dispatched a team of investigators to aid for the aircraft search in Malaysia.

Appointed to serve at the NTSB by President George W. Bush in 2004, Hersman was chair person to head the organization by President Barak Obama in 2009. Her successor, Mr. Hart, is an attorney and licensed aircraft pilot. He formerly served as the deputy director of air traffic safety with the FAA.

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