WASHINGTON, DC — Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, applauded Senate passage of the National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act of 2010 (S.2768). The bill reauthorizes funding for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) through fiscal year 2012, and strengthens the NTSB’s authority to investigate transportation accidents.
“Keeping families safe in the sky, on the sea, on the rails, and on the road is priority number one,” Chairman Rockefeller said. “I commend the NTSB for the critically important work they do. This is an important bill, and as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee I will continue to fight to make sure the NTSB has the tools it needs to keep the traveling public safe on our transportation systems.”
Key provisions of the National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act of 2010 include:
- Clarifying the NTSB’s jurisdiction to include investigations of incidents that raise significant safety issues, but do not necessarily result in the loss of life or property damage.
- Preventing the NTSB, or any agency receiving information from the Board, from having to publicly disclose records related to an ongoing investigation. The Board would retain the authority to make such records available to the public if it is necessary to promote transportation safety.
- Providing the NTSB with explicit authority to investigate accidents involving commercial space launch vehicles.
- Explicitly granting the NTSB authority to access information from any recording devices and recordings on an aircraft, vehicle, vessel, or rolling stock involved in accidents, and to obtain the required information from the manufacturer to enable the Board to read and interpret information from these devices.
- Requiring airlines to augment their family assistance plans by adding a process to notify family members of passengers involved in fatal aviation accidents within 60 days of the destruction of unclaimed and unassociated personal effects.
Additionally, several technical changes were incorporated into the legislation, including provisions to: explicitly permit the NTSB to conduct investigative and safety training courses; allow the NTSB to collect revenues from non-agency personnel who participate in such training courses; revise the threshold for investigation of railroad accidents; and permit the NTSB to investigate relevant international accidents or incidents when requested by foreign authorities.
The National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act of 2010 is sponsored by Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security. Chairman Rockefeller and Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, are cosponsors of the bill.
ABOUT THE NTSB: The NTSB is an independent federal agency responsible for investigating and establishing the facts, circumstances and probable cause of significant transportation accidents in order to develop recommendations that will prevent future accidents or reduce their effects in terms of injury, loss of life, or damage to property. Since its inception in 1967, the NTSB has investigated more than 133,000 aviation accidents and more than 10,000 surface transportation accidents. The NTSB has issued more than 12,000 safety recommendations which have led to significant safety improvements in all aspects of America’s transportation system.