Colloquium: March 2, 2010

An Insider’s View of NTSB Accident Investigation

Robert L. Sumwalt, III

TUESDAY: March 2, 2010 2:00 P.M. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium


NEWS FLASH: A major aircraft accident has just occurred. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are en-route to the scene.

On call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the NTSB is one of the world’s premier transportation safety and accident investigation agencies. As an independent Federal agency, the NTSBT is charged by Congress with investigating each civil and public-use aviation accident in the United States, and is often called upon to assist the international community when an aviation disaster occurs outside U.S. Board Member Sumwalt will discuss the NTSB’s investigative process and techniques, and discuss the results of several aviation accident investigations.


Robert L. Sumwalt, IIIRobert L. Sumwalt, III is the 37th Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). President Bush appointed him to a two year term as vice chairman from 2006 to 2008. Prior to his appointment to the NTSB, Mr. Sumwalt headed the flight department of a Fortune 500 company. He also was a pilot for US Airways and Piedmont Airlines for 24 years, logging over 14,000 flight hours and earning type ratings in five different aircraft before retiring from the airline in 2005. During this time, he served as a member of Air Line Pilots Association’s (ALPA) Accident Investigation Board from 2002 to 2004, and chaired ALPA’s Human Factors and Training Group. 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. A trained accident investigator, Mr. Sumwalt participated in several NTSB investigations. Since joining the NTSB, Mr. Sumwalt served as Chairman of the Board of Inquiry for June 2009 public hearing for the accident involving US Airways flight 1549 and for the NTSB’s 2009 public hearing regarding emergency medical services (EMS) helicopters. Additionally, he has served as the Member on-scene for the several transportation accidents.