T cells may reveal why women get severe COVID less than men

by Sarah Avery-Duke, 6 months ago

New research clarifies why women get severe COVID-19 about half as often as men. It comes down to specific immune cells, the study finds.

Wine making waste could have a health-boosting second life

by Diane Nelson-UC Davis, 6 months ago

The leftovers from making wine out of grapes have been considered useless. New research shows they may be a valuable source of health-enhancing compounds.

Gifted programs aren't serving Black, low-income kids

by Alisson Clark-Florida, 6 months ago

Black and low-income elementary students aren't getting the potential benefits of gifted programs, new research finds.

Hot springs microbes 'recycle' dead plants and don't release methane

by Marc Airhart-Texas, 6 months ago

A newly discovered group of microbes that live in hot springs can break down decaying plants without producing the greenhouse gas methane.

Lemurs that aren't picky eaters may survive forest loss

by Duke University, 6 months ago

Flexible diets may save some lemurs from the worst of deforestation, say researchers. Their ability to eat different stuff is in their genes.

Sanders, Warren Lead Call for Biden to Embrace 'Historic' Medicare Expansion | Common Dreams News

6 months ago

Jon Queally, staff writer"Researchers have found that there is a massive spike in the diagnosis of cancer among Americans who reach the age of 65 that could have been diagnosed much earlier if the Medicare eligibility age had been lower," 18 Senators tell Joe Biden on Sunday as they urge lowering eligibility age and expand program to include dental, hearing aids, vision care, and out-of-pocket expenses.

Sports Heroes Who Served: 'Bonanza' Actor Served in Army During Korean War

by David Vergun, 6 months ago

Bobby Dan Davis Blocker is best known for his role as the TV character Hoss Cartwright in the Western series "Bonanza," but he also served in the Army and was wounded in action during the Korean War.

DOD Commemorates Month of the Military Child

by David Vergun, 6 months ago

Every April since 1986, the Defense Department has celebrated the Month of the Military Child.

Medal of Honor Monday: Navy Corpsman Richard D. DeWert

by Katie Lange, 6 months ago

There are people who try to help, and then there are extraordinary people who selflessly give everything for someone else. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard D. DeWert, a hospital corpsman, is the latter, and that's why he's our latest Medal of Honor Monday honoree. 

Sports Heroes Who Served: Soldier Sets Sights on Competing in Tokyo Olympics

by Joseph Lacdan, Army News Service, 6 months ago

Army Sgt. Samantha Schultz hopes to compete in the pentathlon in this year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Medal of Honor Monday: Army Pfc. Joe R. Hastings

by Katie Lange, 6 months ago

Army Pfc. Joe Hastings nearly single-handedly pushed back German forces from a stronghold in the waning days of World War II, only to die a few days later. While his triumph and life were short-lived, his bravery will live forever thanks to the Medal of Honor.

Sports Heroes Who Served: Baseball Legend Larry Doby Served in the Navy During WWII

by David Vergun, 6 months ago

Lawrence "Larry" Eugene Doby was the second Black baseball player to break the color barrier in the major leagues, three months after Jackie Robinson made history by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Medal of Honor Monday: Navy Cmdr. Ernest E. Evans

by Katie Lange, 6 months ago

The Battle of Leyte Gulf, which helped the Allies recapture the Philippines during World War II, is one of America's greatest naval triumphs, thanks in large part to Navy Cmdr. Ernest Evans, whose heroism during the battle earned him the Medal of Honor.

Sports Heroes Who Served: Boxer Credits Marine Corps Discipline With Staying in the Fight

by David Vergun, DOD News and Gary Sheftick, Army News Service, 6 months ago

Jamel William Herring, a former Marine, has held the World Boxing Organization junior lightweight title since May 2019. Herring is currently ranked as the fourth-best active junior lightweight in the world.

Military Child Larissa Heslop Stands Out as Student-Athlete, Volunteer

by Barbara Gersna, 6 months ago

Larissa Heslop achieved much success as a student-athlete playing soccer while attending Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to these successes, she also volunteers to help others.

Poor Bridge Resource Management Led to Natural Gas Tanker Hitting Puget Sound Wharf

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (Feb. 4, 2021) – The National Transportation Safety Boa​rd said Thursday a ship carrying liquefied petroleum gas struck a Washington State wharf in 2019 because the pilot approached with excessive speed and at too steep an angle, resulting from poor bridge resource management by the Puget Sound pilot and the ship's bridge team.The 741.5-foot partially loaded liquified gas carrier Levant struck the Petrogas Ferndale Wharf in Puget Sound, near Ferndale, Washington, on Dec. 15, 2019, causing more than $8 million in damage. The wharf's south mooring dolphin, and the catwalk connecting it to the wharf, were destroyed and the Levant's forward ballast tank was penetrated and flooded. There were no injuries or environmental damage.(In this undated image, a tanker of similar size to the Levant, is seen docking starboard side to the Petrogas Wharf in Ferndale, Washington. Photo courtesy of Petrogas LLC.) The Levant, owned by Avance Gas LTD and operated by Exmar Ship Management NV, successfully docked at the wharf several days earlier. The master, concerned about maintaining a safe under-keel clearance due to a falling tide, decided to stop loading their cargo of propane and butane and take the ship to deeper water for the night. For the shift to the anchorage, 0.7 miles away, a pilot was brought on board. The pilot then stayed for the next day's early morning approach back to the wharf when tidal conditions improved.  Investigators found a “condition of complacency" likely existed on the bridge because of the short distance back to the wharf. The master-pilot exchange of information was not as detailed as during the earlier briefing before leaving the wharf. The pilot and the master were likely distracted by a two-minute, non-pertinent conversation they had about three minutes before contact. In Marine Accident Brief 21/02, the NTSB said the vigilance of a pilot and bridge team should be increased, not decreased, with a ship's proximity to dangers and obstructions. Regardless of the distance or duration of a transit, the bridge resource management fundamentals of planning, communication, use of all available resources and information, monitoring and management of distractions are essential to operations with a pilot on board. Marine Accident Brief 21/02 is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xASUg.​

Calabasas, California, Helicopter Crash Subject of NTSB Meeting

6 months ago

​​​WASHINGTON (Feb 4, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board announced Thursday its intent to hold a public board meeting Feb. 9, 2021, 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, to determine the probable cause of the fatal, Jan. 26, 2020, helicopter crash near Calabasas, California.The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter collided with hilly terrain and was destroyed by impact forces and fire. The pilot and eight passengers were fatally injured. The helicopter operated by Island Express Helicopters Inc., was on an on-demand passenger, visual flight rules flight, from John Wayne-Orange County Airport, Santa Ana, California, to Camarillo Airport, Camarillo, California. (This photo illustration is from radar tracking the last 1 minute of the flightpath of the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter. Google Earth image, NTSB graphic overlay by Bill English).In keeping with established federal and local social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, while also ensuring the NTSB’s compliance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, the board meeting for this investigation will be webcast to the public, with the board members and investigative staff meeting virtually. There will be no physical gathering to facilitate the board meeting.WHO: NTSB investigative staff and board members.WHAT: A webcast of a virtual board meeting.WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, 9:30 a.m. (EST).HOW: The board meeting will be webcast only, there will not be a public gathering of NTSB investigative staff or board members. A link to the webcast will be available shortly before the start of the meeting at http://ntsb.windrosemedia.com/.MEDIA AVAILABILITY: NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt is scheduled to hold a virtual media availability at 2 p.m. (EST), to answer questions about the board meeting, the NTSB’s investigation of the accident, and the safety recommendations issued by the board.The virtual media availability with Chairman Sumwalt will be conducted using Microsoft Teams. Journalists who RSVP to ntsbmediarelations@ntsb.gov will receive an email with the link and information about how the availability will be conducted. A recording of the availability will be made available on the NTSB’s YouTube channel as soon as practicable.

Pilot’s Poor Decision Making, Spatial Disorientation, Led to Fatal Helicopter Crash

6 months ago

WASHINGTON (Feb. 9, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board determined during a public meeting Tuesday, a pilot’s decision to continue flight under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the pilot’s spatial disorientation and loss of control, led to the fatal, Jan. 26, 2020, crash of a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter in Calabasas, California.The pilot and eight passengers died when the helicopter, operated by Island Express Helicopters, Inc., entered a rapidly descending left turn and crashed into terrain. The flight departed from John Wayne Airport-Orange County, Santa Ana, California, and was bound for Camarillo, California.About two minutes before the crash, while at an altitude of about 450 feet above ground level, the pilot transmitted to an air traffic control facility that he was initiating a climb to get the helicopter “above the [cloud] layers.” The helicopter climbed at a rate of about 1,500 feet per minute and began a gradual left turn. The helicopter reached an altitude of about 2,400 feet above sea level (1,600 feet above ground level) and began to descend rapidly in a left turn to the ground. While the helicopter was descending the air traffic controller asked the pilot to “say intentions,” and the pilot replied that the flight was climbing to 4,000 feet msl (about 3,200 feet above ground level). A witness first heard the helicopter and then saw it emerge from the bottom of the cloud layer in a left-banked descent about one or two seconds before impact.Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s likely self-induced pressure and plan continuation bias, which adversely affected his decision making. The NTSB also determined Island Express Helicopters Inc.’s inadequate review and oversight of its safety management process contributed to the crash.“Unfortunately, we continue to see these same issues influence poor decision making among otherwise experienced pilots in aviation crashes,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “Had this pilot not succumbed to the pressures he placed on himself to continue the flight into adverse weather, it is likely this accident would not have happened. A robust safety management system can help operators like Island Express provide the support their pilots need to help them resist such very real pressures.” (This photo illustration is from radar tracking the last minute of the flightpath of the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter. Google Earth image, NTSB graphic overlay by Bill English).The report discussed during Tuesday’s meeting highlighted Island Express Helicopters Inc.’s inadequate review and oversight of its safety management processes. Island Express Helicopters Inc.’s lack of a documented policy and safety assurance evaluations to ensure its pilots were consistently and correctly completing the flight risk analysis forms, hindered the effectiveness of the form as a risk management tool. The NTSB concluded a fully implemented, mandatory safety management system could enhance Island Express Helicopter Inc.’s ability to manage risks.Based upon its investigation the NTSB issued a total of four safety recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration and to IslandExpress Helicopters Inc. These recommendations address safety issues including preflight weather and flight risk planning, spatial disorientation, inflight decision-making, the benefits of a mandatory safety management system, and the benefits of a flight data monitoring program.An abstract of the final report, which includes the findings, probable cause, and all safety recommendations, is available at https://go.usa.gov/xsxU8. The full final report will publish in the next few weeks.The docket for the investigation is available at https://go.usa.gov/xAuAM.

Media Advisory: NTSB’s 2021 – 2022 Most Wanted List Board Meeting Postponed

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (Feb. 17, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board announced Wednesday its decision to postpone the planned March 9, 2021, board meeting for the 2021 – 2022 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.The agency postponed the meeting to further refine the proposed list of safety items. The NTSB will announce the new board meeting date when it is added to the board calendar.

Investigative Update: United Airlines Flight 328 Boeing 777 Engine Incident

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (Feb. 21, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board issued an investigative update Sunday for its ongoing investigation of Saturday's engine event on a Boeing 777-200.United flight 328 experienced a right engine failure shortly after takeoff from Denver International Airport. The airplane returned safely to Denver; none of the 229 passengers or 10 crewmembers were injured. The flight's destination was Honolulu, Hawaii.The information in this update is preliminary and subject to change as the NTSB's investigation progresses. As such, no conclusions about how the incident happened should be drawn from the information contained within the investigative update.Shortly after the NTSB was notified of the event, a senior NTSB investigator who lives in the Denver area began working with local law enforcement officials to coordinate the recovery of the components that separated from the engine, many of which landed in residential areas.  Three other investigators from the NTSB's Denver regional office are assisting.The NTSB investigator-in-charge for this event along with a powerplant specialist traveled from Washington to Denver Sunday morning. The initial examination of the airplane indicated most of the damage was confined to the number 2 engine; the airplane sustained minor damage. The examination and documentation of the airplane is ongoing.The initial examination of the Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine revealed: The inlet and cowling separated from the engineTwo fan blades were fractured One fan blade was fractured near the rootAn adjacent fan blade was fractured about mid-spanA portion of one blade was imbedded in the containment ringThe remainder of the fan blades exhibited damage to the tips and leading edgesInvestigators continue to examine the engine, airplane and the photographs and video taken by passengers aboard United flight 328.The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were transported to the NTSB laboratory in Washington where each will be downloaded and analyzed.The following initial investigative groups have been established by the investigator-in-charge:    Structures    Powerplants    Operations Factors    Maintenance Records    Flight Data Recorder    Cockpit Voice RecorderParties to the investigation include the Federal Aviation Administration, United Airlines, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, the Air Line Pilots Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.Analysis of this event, along with conclusions and a determination of probable cause, will come at a later date when the final report on the investigation is completed.  ​​

Virtual Media Briefing by NTSB Chairman on United Airlines Flight 328 Investigation

6 months ago

​The National Transportation Safety Board has scheduled a virtual media briefing for Monday, 8 p.m. Eastern time, to provide an update on its investigation of Saturday's engine failure on United Airlines flight 328.United Airlines flight 328 experienced a right engine failure shortly after takeoff from Denver International Airport. The airplane returned safely to Denver; none of the 229 passengers or 10 crewmembers were injured. The flight's destination was Honolulu, Hawaii.NTSB investigators from the Denver regional office along with another investigator who lives in the area, plus the investigator-in-charge and a powerplant specialist from NTSB headquarters, responded to the incident and began the investigation.WHO:             NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt and Investigator-in-Charge Dan Bower.WHAT:           Media Briefing on NTSB's investigation of Saturday's engine failure incident on United flight 328. WHEN:           Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, 8 p.m. Eastern time.WHERE:         Virtual Media Briefing via Microsoft Teams.  There will be no physical gathering to support this media briefing.HOW:             Media interested in participating in the media briefing are asked to RSVP to ntsbmediarelations@ntsb.gov. NTSB media relations will reply with a link for the media briefing.A recording of the virtual media briefing will be available via NTSB's YouTube channel as soon as practicable.  ​​

NTSB’s TWA Flight 800 Reconstruction to be Decommissioned

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (Feb. 22, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board announced Monday its decision to decommission the TWA Flight 800 reconstruction as the agency prepares for the expiration of the lease for its Ashburn, Virginia, Training Center.The reconstruction, housed in the 30,000 square foot hangar along with other training tools at the NTSB’s Training Center, has been used in the NTSB’s accident investigation training courses for nearly 20 years. However, advances in investigative techniques such as 3-D scanning and drone imagery, lessen the relevance of the large-scale reconstruction in teaching modern investigative techniques.TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747, bound for Paris, France with 230 people aboard, crashed July 17, 1996, minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport. After an exhaustive, four-year-long investigation, the NTSB determined the probable cause of the crash was an explosion in the center wing fuel tank. Evidence indicated the explosion was the result of an electrical failure that ignited the flammable fuel/air mixture in the tank.“The investigation of the crash of TWA Flight 800 is a seminal moment in aviation safety history,” said NTSB Managing Director Sharon Bryson. “From that investigation we issued safety recommendations that fundamentally changed the way aircraft are designed. The investigation also led to a memorandum of understanding between the FBI and the NTSB regarding investigations of accidents resulting from intentional acts as well as evidence collection and preservation. That investigation also led to the equally important development of our Transportation Disaster Assistance division and the legislation in place today governing carrier responsibilities for family assistance in the wake of a transportation disaster,” said Bryson.The NTSB plans to stop use of the reconstruction July 7, 2021. For several months thereafter, the NTSB will thoroughly document the reconstruction using various 3-D scanning techniques. The scanned data will be archived for historical purposes.When the NTSB moved the reconstruction to the Training Center, it did so with the stipulation that it would be used solely as a training resource and never as an exhibit or public display. To honor this agreement made with the families of the victims of TWA Flight 800, the NTSB will work closely with a federal government contractor to dismantle the reconstruction and destroy the wreckage.“Our Transportation Disaster Assistance division and I have connected with representatives of TWA Flight 800 family groups to help ensure families of those who perished on TWA Flight 800 learned of our decision directly from the NTSB before our public announcement,” said Bryson.Between calendar year 2015 and 2019 the NTSB trained a combined annual average of 2,622 students including NTSB investigators and staff, and external stakeholders involved in transportation safety, advocacy, family assistance and emergency response. The NTSB is exploring options to continue its robust training program.

NTSB Issues Investigative Update for United Airlines Flight 328 Engine Failure Event

6 months ago

​​WASHINGTON (March 5, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board published an investigative update Friday for its ongoing investigation of the Feb. 20, 2021, United Airlines flight 328 engine failure event.UAL flight 328 experienced a failure of the right Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine shortly after takeoff from Denver International Airport, Denver. There were no injuries reported, and the airplane sustained minor damage.The investigative update does not contain analysis and does not discuss probable cause in this ongoing investigation. As such, no conclusions regarding the cause of the engine failure should be made based on the information contained in the update. The information in the update is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation continues. Facts gathered to date in the investigation, and provided in the update, include:Initial examination of the right engine fire damage found it was primarily contained to the engine's accessory components, thrust reverser skin, and composite honeycomb structure of the inboard and outboard thrust reversers. The spar valve, which stops fuel flow to the engine when the fire switch is pulled in the cockpit, was found closed – there was no evidence of a fuel-fed fire. Initial examination of the right engine fan revealed the spinner and spinner cap were in place and appeared undamaged.All fan blade roots were in place in the fan hub, two blades were fractured.One fan blade was fractured 7.5 inches above the base at the trailing edge. The fracture surface was consistent with fatigue.The second fractured blade exhibited indications of overload failure, consistent with secondary damage. Initial review of maintenance and inspection data for the blade with the fatigue fracture, revealed it had experienced 2,979 cycles since its last inspection. This blade underwent thermal acoustic image inspections in 2014 and 2016. Inspection data collected from the 2016 inspection was examined again in 2018 because of a Feb. 13, 2018, incident involving a Boeing 777 with Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engines.The engine fan blade with the fractures consistent with fatigue was sent to the metallurgical laboratory at Pratt & Whitney for further examinations led by a senior NTSB metallurgist.  Preliminary findings from the scanning electron microscope examination identified multiple fatigue fracture origins on the interior surface of a cavity within the blade. Efforts to further characterize the fracture surface, including identifying the primary origin and counting striations, are ongoing. Additional work is underway to further characterize secondary cracks identified through fluorescent penetrant inspection. The NTSB metallurgy group also plans to analyze the blade's chemical composition and microstructure near the fracture surface. The full investigative update is available online​.​

NTSB Opens Public Docket for Danville, Kentucky Pipeline Rupture Investigation

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (March 11, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board opened the public docket Thursday as part of its ongoing investigation of the fatal, Aug. 1, 2019, natural gas transmission pipeline rupture and fire near Danville, Kentucky.The docket for this investigation includes more than 3,600 pages of factual information, including reports on pipeline operations, integrity management, metallurgical testing, and emergency response efforts. The docket also includes interview transcripts, photographs, employee training records, and other investigative materials.The docket contains only factual information collected by NTSB investigators; it does not provide the final report, nor does it contain analysis, findings, recommendations, or probable cause determinations. As such, no conclusions about how or why the rupture occurred should be drawn from the information within the docket. Analysis, findings, recommendations, and probable cause determinations related to the rupture will be issued by the NTSB in a final report at a later date.A 30-inch pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge Inc., ruptured and released natural gas that ignited. One person was fatally injured in the accident that destroyed five residences, damaged 14 other residences, and burned about 30 acres of land, including railroad tracks. (This photo illustration shows the post-rupture aerial view of the accident area, the location of pipelines across the northwest, rupture of central pipeline, ejected pipe to the south, destroyed, and damaged residences to the southeast. Google Earth image, NTSB graphic overlay by Mike Hiller)The public docket for this investigation is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xsdWs.Additional material may be added to the docket as it becomes available.  

Morgan Turrell Named Director of NTSB Office of Marine Safety

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (March 18, 2021) — Longtime mariner and investigator Morgan Turrell has been named director of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Office of Marine Safety.The office investigates major marine accidents within the United States and its territories, as well as accidents involving U.S.-flagged vessels worldwide. Official portrait of NTSB’s new director of the Office of Marine Safety, Morgan Turrell. (NTSB photo)Turrell began his career at the NTSB in 2003 as a nautical operations investigator. From 2007 to 2010 he served as Vice President of Marine Investigations for Princess Cruises, where he investigated casualties aboard ships worldwide. Turrell returned to the NTSB’s Office of Marine Safety in 2010. In 2014, Turrell was selected as chief of investigations and in 2017 he was promoted to deputy director. Turrell has served as acting director of Marine Safety since March 2020.Captain Turrell is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and served as a licensed deck officer, including Master, on a variety of commercial vessels including tankers, container ships, roll-on/roll-off vessels, research ships and bulk carriers.Turrell earned an MBA from Pepperdine University and a master's degree from George Mason University in transportation policy, operations and logistics.He assumed the duties of director of the Office of Marine Safety March 1.

Stricter Regulatory Requirements for Some Revenue Passenger-Carrying General Aviation Operations Subject of NTSB Meeting

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (March 18, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board announced Thursday its intent to hold a public board meeting March 23, 2021, 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, to consider a draft report on recommendations for the implementation of stricter regulatory requirements for some types of revenue passenger-carrying general aviation operations.The NTSB has a long history of concerns about the safety of various revenue passenger-carrying operations, including sightseeing flights conducted in hot air balloons, helicopters, and other aircraft and parachute jump flights. These operations are not subject to the same maintenance, airworthiness, and operational requirements as other commercial flight operations.The five-member board will consider the need for broader oversight and additional safety requirements for certain types of revenue passenger-carrying general aviation operations.In keeping with established federal and local social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, while also ensuring the NTSB’s compliance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, the board meeting for this event will be webcast to the public, with the board members and investigative staff meeting virtually. There will be no physical gathering to facilitate the board meeting.WHO: NTSB investigative staff and board members.WHAT: A webcast of a virtual board meeting.WHEN: Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.HOW: The board meeting will be webcast only, there will not be a public gathering of NTSB investigative staff or board members. A link to the webcast will be available shortly before the start of the meeting at http://ntsb.windrosemedia.com/.MEDIA AVAILABILITY: NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt is scheduled to hold a virtual media availability at 2 p.m. Eastern time, to answer questions about the meeting and the safety recommendations issued by the board.The virtual media availability with Chairman Sumwalt will be conducted using Microsoft Teams Live Event. Journalists who RSVP to ntsbmediarelations@ntsb.gov will receive an email with the link and information about how the availability will be conducted. A recording of the availability will be made available on the NTSB’s YouTube channel as soon as practicable.

NTSB Calls for Enhanced Safety Standards in Some Revenue Passenger-Carrying General Aviation Operations

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (March 23, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday asked the Federal Aviation Administration to enhance a series of safety requirements in regulations that allow some revenue passenger-carrying flight operations to be conducted as general aviation flights.“The NTSB remains concerned with the inadequate safety standards the FAA allows for some revenue passenger-carrying general aviation operations,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “When someone pays for an air tour, a parachute jump flight, or an extreme aerobatic experience flight, they have the right to expect effective safety standards for such operations. Currently that is not the case, and this exposes customers to unnecessary risks.”In a public board meeting held Tuesday, the NTSB said members of the public who pay to participate in such flying experiences, are likely unaware many of these flights are not subject to the same maintenance, airworthiness, and operational requirements as other revenue flight operations. (This photo taken on October 3, 2019, is of a Boeing B-17G, which was destroyed when it impacted terrain short of runway 6 at Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut. This was one of eight accidents referenced in the Enhance Safety of Revenue Passenger-Carrying Operations Conducted Under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 report. Photo by NTSB unmanned aerial system.)Investigators said while operators of commuter and on-demand flights must hold certificates requiring specific operational, training, maintenance and safety standards, the FAA has made allowances for certain revenue passenger-carrying operations to be governed by general aviation regulations, known as Part 91, which have less stringent safety requirements.The NTSB said that, for these Part 91 revenue passenger-carrying operations, there is a lack of FAA oversight, a lack of structured pilot training, deficiencies in pilot skills and decision-making, and inadequate aircraft maintenance. Among the eight accidents investigators cited as examples was the July 30, 2016, crash of a commercial hot air balloon near Lockhart, Texas, which killed the pilot and all 15 passengers. The NTSB included the pilot’s pattern of poor decision-making in the probable cause of what remains the deadliest aviation accident since 2009.Investigators also cited situations in which operators intentionally exploited regulatory loopholes to avoid the more robust oversight intended for revenue-passenger carrying operations, including those for commercial air tours. One such example was a March 11, 2018, helicopter flight over New York City operating under the exception of an aerial photography flight; the investigation had determined the intended purpose of the flight was an air tour. The helicopter lost engine power in cruise flight and was ditched in the East River. All five passengers were killed.The lack of a requirement for all Part 91 revenue passenger-carrying operators to have safety management systems and inadequate FAA oversight of those systems when voluntarily implemented introduce risks the NTSB determined were unacceptable and avoidable. In the Oct. 2. 2019, crash of a World War II-era Boeing B-17G on a “living history flight experience” flight, the operator’s ineffective safety management system and the FAA’s inadequate oversight of it, contributed to the probable cause of the accident that killed seven and seriously injured five others.The NTSB made six new recommendations to the FAA, including developing national safety standards or equivalent regulations for specific revenue passenger-carrying operations, identifying shortcomings in current regulations allowing some operators to exploit loopholes to avoid stricter oversight, and requiring safety management systems for all revenue passenger-carrying operations currently conducted under Part 91.The NTSB also reiterated three recommendations and changed the classification of two of these previously issued recommendations from “Open‒Acceptable Response” to “Open‒Unacceptable Response.”An abstract of the findings and safety recommendations is available at https://go.usa.gov/xsMSh. The complete final report is expected to be published in the next few weeks.

NTSB Finds Speed an Issue in 2019 Houston Ship Channel Collision

6 months ago

​More than 11,000 Barrels of Petrochemicals Spilled into Galveston BayWASHINGTON (March 30, 2021) – Vessel speed was a factor in the 2019 collision between a liquefied propane gas tanker and a barge in the Houston Ship Channel that resulted in the release of 11,000 barrels of petrochemicals, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.The 754-foot-long liquefied Genesis River collided with the 297-foot-long tank barge 30015T on the Houston Ship Channel May 10, 2019, in Texas’ Upper Galveston Bay. The collision breached two cargo tanks in the barge, spilling approximately 473,600 gallons of reformate, a gasoline blending stock. There were no injuries.In Marine Accident Report 21/01, the NTSB says the pilot’s decision to transit the wide-beam, deep-draft Genesis River in “navigation full” mode at “sea speed” subjected the vessel to greater hydrodynamic forces than had it been traveling at slower maneuvering speeds through the shallow and narrow lower Houston Ship Channel. Sea speed is the maximum efficient speed of a vessel, but it is generally used in open oceans because the propulsion engine mode required for this setting limits the ability to change speeds in an emergency. The maneuvering limitations imposed by operating at sea speed prevented a rapid increase in engine speed when needed to improve rudder effectiveness. Transiting the channel at sea speed, investigators said, “left little margin for error and introduced unnecessary risk.”“Operating at sea speed reduces the ability to maneuver out of a dangerous situation,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “This is especially true in the Houston Ship Channel, a challenging waterway with a long history of accidents.” (This screen capture from wheelhouse video on board the towing vessel Voyager shows the moment when the LPG tanker Genesis River struck barge 30015T, March 10, 2019. Source: Kirby Inland Marine)The NTSB issued three new recommendations to Houston Pilots, including advising their members to avoid transiting large vessels at sea speed in the lower Houston Ship Channel and avoiding any passing arrangements between large vessels in the northern and southern terminuses of the Bayport Flare. The NTSB also recommended that large vessels such as the Genesis River be sufficiently trimmed by the stern to increase maneuvering ability.The collision occurred after the outbound Genesis River had passed an inbound ship of similar size at the southern end of the Bayport Flare. Immediately after passing the other ship, the Genesis River approached the channel’s west bank, then sheered to port, crossing over to the opposite side (east) of the channel where, in the barge lane ahead, was barge 30015T, one of two tank barges being pushed by the towing vessel Voyager.The NTSB determined the probable cause of the collision was the hydrodynamic effects resulting from two deep-draft vessels passing each other and the Genesis River’s speed, which increased the hydrodynamic effects of the channel banks and reduced the pilot’s ability to regain control of the vessel.The NTSB also reiterated two earlier recommendations made to the U.S. Coast Guard. Those 2016 recommendations urged the Coast Guard to identify areas of increased vessel conflicts or accidents that could benefit from the use of special routing measures. In 2017, the Coast Guard replied to the recommendations by saying it would implement a risk assessment program. But the NTSB has not received further information on this initiative after the Coast Guard’s initial correspondence.Marine Accident Report 21/01, including all recommendations, findings and analysis, can be found online at https://go.usa.gov/xHq2X

NTSB Issues Preliminary Report for Investigation of Railway Employee Fatality

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (April 1, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board issued Thursday the preliminary report for its ongoing investigation of the March 3, 2021, death of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway conductor in the La Mirada, California, railyard.Information in the report is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation progresses, as such, no conclusions about the cause of the accident should be drawn from the report.The conductor was riding a boxcar’s ladder and communicating position and distance information as the 48-car train moved through the yard at about 8 mph. The boxcar on which the conductor was riding collided with the side of a stationary locomotive, pinning and killing the conductor. Another conductor riding on a ladder on the opposite side of the same boxcar was uninjure. (This diagram details the accident sequence in which a BNSF Railway conductor died March 3, 2019. NTSB graphic by Christy Spangler.)Two NTSB investigators traveled to the accident scene March 3 to gather information and evidence. Future investigative activity will focus on safety rules related to switching operations, temporary close clearances in railyards and the effects of fatigue and medical issues on railroad operating crews.Parties to the NTSB’s investigation include the Federal Railroad Administration, the California Public Utilities commission, BNSF Railway, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive engineers and Trainmen.

NTSB Finds Complacency, Lack of Procedural Compliance at Issue in Marine Accidents

6 months ago

​WASHINGTON (April 1, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board Thursday found that a lack of procedural compliance and complacency were key factors in several marine accident investigations concluded so far in 2021.The NTSB determined the probable cause of the flooding of the towing vessel Alton St. Amant on May 17, 2020, in Harvey Canal, New Orleans, Louisiana, was the absence of shipyard pre-inspection and monitoring procedures for water transfer, which resulted in potable water tanks overflowing through their open access hatches during an unmonitored transfer. Marine Accident Brief 21/07 is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xsegA.In its report NTSB investigators wrote that crew and shipyard personnel designated to conduct liquid transfers must be aware of the status of a vessel’s tanks, including their access hatches and associated piping systems, whether ashore or at sea. When filling a tank, open access hatches create a risk of unintended flooding. Pre-inspection and monitoring of transfers provide the opportunity to identify and remedy any issues in order to ensure they are safely completed.The NTSB’s investigation of the Sept. 8, 2019 contact of the Savage Voyager’s tow with the Jamie Whitten Lock & Dam, near Dennis, Mississippi, revealed the tow moving out of position in the lock chamber. Investigators found that the crew did not effectively monitor and maintain the vessel’s position during its descent. The movement resulted in the aft barge becoming hung on the upper gate miter sill, resulting in hull failure and release of crude oil into the lock. Marine Accident Brief 21/06 is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xsysp. NTSB investigators wrote that while locking operations can seem routine, the margins for safety are frequently low. Maintaining vessel position and communication with the lock operator are critical practices to ensure safe lockage. Crews should avoid complacency and vigilantly monitor lines at all times to prevent “running” in a lock. Graphic showing the position of the Savage Voyager’s tow in the Jamie Whitten Lock & Dam. (NTSB graphic by Christy Spangler, Kristyn Jeschelnik)Other marine investigations completed in 2021 include:The March 15, 2020, contact between barges towed by Cooperative Spirit and the Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge on the Mississippi River near Luling, Louisiana. Damage estimate: $1.65 million. Marine Accident Brief 21/05 is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xsMsQThe Feb. 26, 2020 fire aboard the City of Cleveland on the Mississippi River near Natchez, Mississippi. Estimated damage: $2 million. Marine Accident Brief 21/04 is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xsMspThe October 8, 2019 fire aboard the Susan Lynn, which was docked and in layup status on the Barataria Waterway in Lafitte, Louisiana. Damage: $1.35 million. Marine Accident Brief 21/03 is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xHc4aAll investigations were conducted by the NTSB’s Office of Marine Safety, which investigates major marine accidents within the United States and its territories, as well as accidents involving U.S.-flagged vessels worldwide.


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