The NTSB excludes family members from its accident investigations. But it allows those who may have caused or contributed to a crash to participate. That’s an obvious conflict of interest. As a result, NTSB probable cause findings are not always impartial. Instead, they tend to favor the industry players.
The industry players have long argued that, while they may be allowed behind closed doors to assist the NTSB in their investigations, they would never seek to influence the investigation’s outcome.
The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, which owns Reno-Stead Airport, has dropped the pretense of "just wanting to help the NTSB find out what happened." Rather, it has gone whole-hog in seeking to actually influence the investigation of the Reno Air Race Disaster. In fact, it has hired professional help from a Washington lobbying firm.
You won’t find that information on the Airport Authority’s website. But you will find it in papers filed in Washington, DC. According to The Hill:
The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority has hired Gephardt Government Affairs to lobby on the “government investigation of crash at Reno Air Races,” according to new lobbying forms released this week.
An NTSB investigation is not supposed to be a political process. It’s hard to imagine anything more inappropriate than hiring lobbyists to influence its outcome.
But that is what it has come to.
Thankfully, we still have the jury system. No lobbying allowed there. Everything has to be done in open court, for all to see.