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NTSB Chairman Jim Hall announces he will leave agency in January

NTSB : Monday December 18, 2000
Acting Chairman Jim Hall announced today that he will resign his position as Member of the National Transportation Safety Board on January 18. He joined the Board in October 1993 and has been Chairman since June 1994.
In his letter of resignation to President Clinton, Hall said, "It has been my honor and privilege to serve the United States and its citizens as both Member and Chairman of the Safety Board for the past seven years."

He concluded his letter to the President by stating, "The men and women of the Safety Board serve our nation with dedication and distinction. I will miss my association with them. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the American people. Please accept my deepest gratitude for the support and confidence you have placed in me."

During his tenure as Chairman, the Safety Board has experienced a period of unprecedented activity, including the two longest and most complex aviation accident investigations in the NTSB's history - the crash of USAir flight 427, a Boeing 737, near Pittsburgh in 1994 and the crash of TWA flight 800, a Boeing 747, off Long Island in 1996. Although both investigations took more than 4 years to complete, they involved innovative examinations of rudder systems and pilot training, in one case, and fuel tank design, fuel flammability standards and electrical wiring, in the other.

In the matter of the 737, Boeing Aircraft Company has announced a redesign of that aircraft's rudder system to address concerns identified in the Board's investigation.

Chairman Hall was instrumental in getting the auto industry and the States to sponsor fitting stations nationwide to ensure that child safety seats are properly fitted into automobiles. Studies have shown that about 90 percent of these safety devices are improperly installed by caregivers and thus do not provide the full protection for which they are designed.

Also during his tenure, following a Safety Board forum on airbag safety, automobile airbags were modified to protect children and small-statured adults from the impact forces of standard air bags.

Perhaps one of his most lasting legacies will be the change in how family members of victims of major transportation accidents are treated. Chairman Hall first became involved in the issue in January 1995 after meeting with family members during the Board's public hearing on the crash of USAir flight 427. In 1996, Congress passed, and the President signed, the Aviation Family Assistance Act, which empowers the NTSB to coordinate federal services to families of major air crash victims.

Because of his work with victims' families, and for his "relentless pursuit of every avenue available in an attempt to resolve what happened to USAir flight 427," Chairman Hall received an Aviation Laurel from Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine in 1996. In 1997, Chairman Hall was presented the Herbert C. Bonner Award by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators for the commitment he has shown over the years toward boating safety. The organization subsequently presented him with its Administrator's Award in 1999.

Last month, Chairman Hall announced that the Safety Board had selected the George Washington University campus in Loudoun County, Virginia as the site of its new accident investigation training academy, which will develop a curriculum for investigators not just in the United States, but around the world.

Among the major investigations the agency conducted during Hall's tenure include the crash of an American Eagle ATR-72 in Roselawn, Indiana in 1994; the crash of ValuJet flight 592 in the Everglades in 1996; the collision between an Amtrak train and a commuter train in Maryland in 1996; the deadliest pipeline accident in the Board's history, in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1996; the crash of Korean Air flight 801 - a Boeing 747 - in Guam in 1997; the fire aboard the cruise ship Ecstasy in 1998; the crash of a tour bus near New Orleans in 1999; the derailment of an Amtrak train in Bourbonnais, Illinois in 1999; the loss of a small plane piloted by John F. Kennedy, Jr., in 1999; the crash of EgyptAir flight 990 in 1999; and the crash of Alaska Airlines flight 261 off the coast of California earlier this year.

It was during Mr. Hall's Chairmanship that the Safety Board was confronted for the first time with the necessity of recovering substantial portions of aircraft wreckage from the ocean bottom, and had to do it on three separate occasions: TWA 800, EgyptAir 990, and Alaska Airlines 261.

Chairman Hall, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, has not announced his future employment plans.

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This file last updated: Monday, 18-Dec-2000 16:20:13 EST
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