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The Book Shelf
Safety in the Skies:
Personnel and Parties in NTSB
Aviation Accident Investigations
by Cynthia C. Lebow, Liam P. Sarsfield,
William L. Stanley, Emile Ettedgui, Garth Henning
An Executive Summary Published 1999 by RAND
 $15.00, MR-1122-ICJ
Master Volume Published in 2000 by RAND
$25.00, MR-1122/1-ICJ.
To place an order contact:
Distribution Services 
1700 Main Street
PO Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA  90407-2138
Telephone: 310-451-7002      Fax:310-451-6915
E-mail:  order@rand.org
Click here to go to Amazon.com

Executive Summary:
ISBN: 0-8330-2806-5,  56 pages
Master Volume:
ISBN: 0-8330-2931-2., 329 pages

Executive version also 
available from


Is the NTSB at its breaking point?  Will the NTSB be able to function effectively over the next decade,
or beyond, given the expected exponential changes in technology and air travel?  The RAND study
of the NTSB aviation accident investigations recommends a major overhaul to ensure the agency's investigative independence and integrity.  Conducted at the request of Chairman Jim Hall, the research provides the most comprehensive look at operations of the NTSB in it's history. 

Dealing with the complexities, costs & lengths of investigations such as TWA 800 and USAir 427,
has highlighted the key factors desperately in need of remedy at the NTSB.  The RAND analysis identifies these urgent objectives:
                             1. " strengthen the party system"
                             2.  "create more expansive statement of causation"
                             3.  "modernize investigative procedures"
                             4.  "streamline internal operating procedures"
                             5.  "better manage resources"
                             6.  "maintain strategic view of staffing"
                             7.  "streamline training practices"
                             8.  "improve facilities for engineering and training".

The NTSB was found to be desperately understaffed & inadequately equipped to deal effectively with complex modern aviation accidents.  The present party system allows manufacturers and airlines, 
often likely candidates in civil litigation, to assist in the NTSB investigation.  Consequently, pertinent information is not always forthcoming.  NTSB investigators must "ask the right question" and be able
to know if they are receiving the right answers. 

The RAND study also suggests that nonparties, such as claimants or their attorneys be allowed to petition for reconsideration when new evidence relating to probable cause or safety recommendations
is discovered through civil litigation.

After loading Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher, Safety in the Skies can be read online.
Go to           http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1122/index.html
and click on the word "CONTENTS" to see the executive summary report.

Go to        http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1122.1/
to see the master volume, a longer and more technical version of Safety in the Skies.

RAND's web site is www.rand.org/
New publications can be found at  http://www.rand.org/publications/electronic/index.html

More information on the Institute of Civil Justice can be found at:

A statement from the NTSB can be read at:

Remarks by C.O. Miller concerning the RAND study can be located at
     AT Special Reports - Preliminary Commentary on the RAND Corporation Study 
and also at
     Comments on RAND -ICJ Report about NTSB 
Miller's remarks provide a professional perspective from the field of  aviation safety.

Written by:  Mary Kahl
Board Liaison - United 232
E-mail:  MKahlcul8@aol.com

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