Sumwalt Designated Vice Chairman at NTSB

Member Sumwalt
Robert L. Sumwalt

National Transportation Safety Board Member Robert L. Sumwalt will again serve as the agency’s vice chairman following his designation as vice chairman by President Donald Trump.

The designation of vice chairman was made in conjunction with the President’s intent to nominate Sumwalt for another five-year term as a board member.

Sumwalt officially assumed the duties of vice chairman Friday as the term of the agency’s current Vice Chairman, Bella Dinh-Zarr, concluded last Wednesday.  Dinh-Zarr, who served as the agency’s acting chairman since March 16, 2017, will remain at the NTSB, applying her transportation safety expertise in the capacity of a board member.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve our nation as the NTSB’s vice chairman,” said Sumwalt.  “I want to thank Christopher Hart for his leadership during his tenure as the NTSB chairman, and Bella Dinh-Zarr for her outstanding work as vice chairman and most recently as acting chairman.  Together they have helped advance transportation safety, making us all safer, while also making NTSB one of the best places to work in government,” said Sumwalt.

The NTSB has five board members, each nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to serve five-year terms.  By statute, the president designates, with Senate confirmation, a chairman and also designates a board member as vice chairman. The vice chairman and chairman each serve two-year terms.  When there is no designated chairman, the vice chairman serves as acting chairman.  Board members whose terms expire may remain on the board until their replacement is appointed.

Sumwalt began his tenure with the agency in August 2006 when he was appointed as the 37th member of the NTSB, whereupon President George W. Bush designated him as vice chairman for a two-year term.  President Barack Obama reappointed Sumwalt to an additional five-year term as a board member in November 2011.

Before joining the NTSB Sumwalt was a pilot for 32 years, including 24 years with Piedmont Airlines and US Airways, accumulating more than 14,000 flight hours. During his tenure at US Airways, he worked on special assignment to the flight safety department and also served on the airline’s Flight Operational Quality Assurance monitoring team.

Sumwalt chaired the Air Line Pilots Association’s Human Factors and Training Group and co-founded the association’s critical incident response program. He also spent eight years as a consultant to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System and has written extensively on aviation safety matters.