Sumwalt Confirmed as NTSB Chairman

Aviation groups praise veteran pilot and safety advocate’s long experience.

Robert Sumwalt
Robert Sumwalt (right, with San Bruno Mayor Jim Roane in May) has been confirmed as the chairman of the NTSB.NTSB/Twitter

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Robert Sumwalt's nomination to a two-year term as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Sumwalt, who succeeds Christopher Hart, has served on the board since 2006.

A pilot for Piedmont Airlines and US Airways for two decades, aviation groups praised his confirmation, which was widely expected.

"Robert is committed to safety, not only for business aviation, but for all of aviation,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “His solid leadership and the resulting increase in implementation of safety programs benefits aircraft operators, travelers and the greater transportation industry. We look forward to working with him in his capacity as chair of the NTSB.”

Sumwalt, a former member of NBAA’s Safety Committee, managed a small flight department for a utility company in South Carolina before being appointed to the NTSB, when he was also designated vice chair of the board for a two-year term. In November 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Sumwalt to another five-year term as a board member, and Sumwalt was again designated vice chair in March.

While on the board, Sumwalt has led teams of NTSB investigators and other parties as the member on-scene for several significant investigations, including an Embraer Phenom 100 accident in Gaithersburg, Maryland in 2014; a Hawker Beechcraft Premier 1A accident in Thompson, Georgia, in 2013 and the crash of an EMS helicopter in Georgetown, South Carolina in 2009.

Hart remains a member of the NTSB.