NTSB Holds Hearing on Air Show, Air Race Safety

January 17th, 2012

On Tuesday, January 10, the National Transportation Safety Board held a day-long hearing on air show and air race safety at their headquarters in Washington, DC. The purpose of the session was to bring public attention to the safety issues involved in aviation event operations, and to provide NTSB members and the Board’s investigative staff with a deeper understanding of regulations, protocols and practices used in the planning and operation of air shows and air races. Individuals and organizations invited to make presentations to the Board included the FAA, ICAS, the Reno Air Racing Association, EAA, the Commemorative Air Force, Seafair, the MCAS Miramar Air Show, the Red Bull Air Races, air boss George Cline, and air show performer Sean Tucker. This video recording of the NTSB hearing includes both the presentations and the question and answer sessions between presenters and Board members.

Just as industry officials had hoped, the hearing provided a positive and public opportunity for the air show community to explain safety and safety programming in the air show environment. NTSB members and employees involved in air show-related accident investigations had a chance to ask specific and pointed questions to help them better understand how our industry approaches safety, and the changes we have made and will be making to further improve the safety of both air show performers and spectators.

“We knew we had a compelling story to tell about what we’ve done, how we’ve done it and how seriously we approach safety issues as an industry. It was gratifying to see that that message was understood by the members of the Board,” said ICAS President John Cudahy. “There’s always room for improvement and ICAS has a number of safety-related goals for 2012 and beyond, but we’ve also made a lot of progress already.”

The event was covered extensively by local and national media, including newspaper reports in the Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times, as well as newswire reports by United Press International and Associated Press that were picked up by local newspapers all over the country. The hearings also received widespread press coverage on-line in both the consumer and aviation business press, including CNN, MSNBC, AOPA and AVWeb. Generally, that coverage was positive, which should help to give spectators and prospective sponsors a higher level of confidence about air shows during the 2012 air show season and beyond.