Military

Trump Taps Four For Aviation Safety Panel Looking At Fatal Military Mishaps

By Dan Parsons | November 9, 2018
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U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol. File photo

U.S. President Trump Nov. 9 made his four appointments to the National Commission on Aviation Safety that will delve into and report on the recent spike in military aviation mishaps.

The list of four names was issued early Friday without any explanation of the appointees qualifications or background. Topping the four bulleted names is industry heavyweight Scott Donnelly, CEO of Textron.

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Textron owns Bell, which manufactures the U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y advanced Huey and AH-1Z attack helicopter, and partners with Boeing on the V-22 Osprey. Donnelly joined the company in 2008 as an executive vice president and COO, was promoted to president in 2009 and became CEO in 2009. He took chairmanship of the board of directors in September 2010.

Donnelly was previously president and CEO of GE Aviation, which manufactures the F110 engine that powers both the F-15 and F-15 fighters, the F404 family that power the F/A-18C/D Hornet naval strike aircraft and the Saab Gripen and the F414 installed in the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Prior to that, Donnelly served as senior vice president and director of GE Global Research, the world's largest and most diversified industrial research organization.

The National Commission on Military Aviation Safety was created by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to provide civilians oversight of an aviation readiness review being prepared by the military.

Both studies are designed to root out causes of a spate of high-profile, often fatal, non-combat aviation mishaps in recent years. While just 21 U.S. troops died in combat in 2017, 80 were killed in non-combat aviation mishaps that military leaders have blamed on multiple interactive factors, including a lack of readiness, spare parts and modernization funding.

Four of the panel members are presidential appointees and one appointment each goes to the chair and ranking member of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate armed services committees.

Trump also tapped Dabney Kern, who currently serves as senior vice president of corporate and national defense at CACI International, a position he assumed in 2017. CACI is a major provider of IT infrastructure and mobile computing to the government.

Kern previously was director of the White House Military Office and deputy assistant to the president from August 2014 to September 2017, one of the few staffer who bridged both the Obama and Trump administrations. He spent two years as senior director of response and recovery policy at the National Security Council during Obama’s first term, during which he managed a team of senior crisis-response experts to respond to national crises ranging from biological threats like the H1N1 flu virus to the Fukushima Earthquake.

Kern is a former naval aviator with more than 20 years in uniform.

Also appointed to the commission is former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph Hagin. In that role, Hagin oversaw the president’s schedule and played a significant role in organizing the meeting in Singapore this year with North Korea. He has since left the White House.

Trump’s fourth pick for the panel is Richard Healing, a former National Transportation Safety Board member who currently is president and CEO of Air Safety Engineering in Lewes, Delaware. Healing was a member of the NTBS from 2003 to 2006.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry and Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith made their picks for the commission Nov. 8. Still to come are nominations by their counterparts on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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