Many think that, after it completes an investigation, the NTSB can order a stop to the dangerous practice that it determined was the cause of the aviation accident. Not so. The NTSB has no regulatory power at all. The only thing the NTSB can do after an investigation is make a safety recommendation and hope that the FAA will adopt it. As the NTSB puts it:
Our effectiveness depends on our reputation for . . . producing timely, well-considered recommendations to enhance transportation safety.
There is, however, a problem. The FAA is free to simply ignore the NTSB’s recommendations. And it usually does just that.
I’ve written before about the FAA’s failure to implement the NTSB’s safety recommendations aimed at improving the safety of the air ambulance industry, reducing accidents from turboprop icing, and grounding dangerous and defective aircraft. Now the Washington Post has picked up on story.
Why do the NTSB’s recommendations simply languish? According to the Post, it’s because the FAA’s rule change process is complex, and because the aviation industry fights change. But the Post notes that
. . .many believe that the biggest cause of delay lies with the FAA itself.
Count me among them.
Unfortunately, to get the FAA to implement the NTSB’s safety recommendations, it seems as though there must first be some sort of public outcry followed by an act of Congress. At least, that was the case with the NTSB’s recent recommendation aimed at reducing the number of accidents caused by pilots flying without adequate sleep.
There has to be a better way.