WASHINGTON — Robert L. Sumwalt has once again been named vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Sumwalt last served as vice chairman a decade ago.
He was designated as vice chairman by President Donald Trump, who also plans to nominate Sumwalt for another five-year term as a board member.
Sumwalt replaces Bella Dinh-Zarr, whose term as vice chairman of NTSB ended last month. Dinh-Zarr, who had served as the agency’s acting chairman since March 16, will remain as a board member.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve our nation as the NTSB’s vice chairman,” Sumwalt said. “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.”
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 a vice chairman to 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 replacements are appointed.
Sumwalt began his tenure with the agency in August 2006 when he was appointed as the 37th member and designated as vice chairman by President George W. Bush. 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.