Commercial, Public Service, Regulatory

Hersman: Public Use Aviation’s ‘Orphan’

By By Andrew Parker, Managing Editor | January 1, 2011

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman used an analogy to describe how federal oversight relates to public-use aircraft, a topic that came up multiple times during the Dec. 7 meeting: “Public-use operations have been made an orphan by the aviation industry, like they have no parent and no one wants to be responsible for them. And this orphan, everyone says when they make a mistake or when something goes wrong, ‘that’s your job. That’s your responsibility. You should have looked at that.’”

NTSB’s accident report seeks to point out that “we have some people who can be parents here, and be adults, and take the responsibility for this child,” she continued. People who work in public use, like firefighters, “are expecting no less oversight from their federal government and their inspectors than you or I are when we get on a commercial airplane for scheduled service,” Hersman said. “They should also get the same service that we get. The regulations might not be exactly the same, but if there are standards out there, by gosh we should make sure they comply with them.”

The chairman noted that at the end of the day, NTSB is saying: “Take responsibility, divide up the responsibilities—take custody of this child and figure out what your visitation agreement’s going to be, and who’s going to do what part of the job on which day … and make sure it doesn’t fall through the cracks.”


Board member Mark Rosekind added that Hersman “nailed this public use stuff with her metaphor, but the challenge clearly is [moving] from metaphor to action here, because everyone who has responsibility is not stepping up. While everyone likes to point the finger elsewhere, the real challenge is going to be to figure out what concrete actions can be recommended and taken, to make a difference.” He noted accident trends in the helicopter EMS industry. “People have sure avoided the responsibility for a long time,” Rosekind said. (From January 2011 Rotorcraft Report)
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