Christopher Hart – Safety Advocate, Deep Thinker, Gentleman

Christopher Hart, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Board Member, and former NTSB Vice Chairman and Chairman, announced he will be leaving the agency on January 31.  He has been an outstanding leader and advocate to enhance safety in all modes of transportation. We both have known Chris for many years and worked with — and David working for — Chris and salute his long and distinguished career at the NTSB, FAA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Department of Transportation’s General Counsel Office.

Chris initially served as an NTSB Board Member from 1990 to 1993. He then served as NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator and Acting Administrator (1993-1995) and then FAA’s Assistant Administrator for System Safety and Deputy Director for Air Traffic Safety Oversight (1995-2009). He was again sworn in as an NTSB Board Member in August 2009, and designated by the President for a 2-year term as NTSB Vice Chairman of the Board. In August 2013, President Obama nominated him for a second term as Board Member and after Senate confirmation of his nomination, the President, in October 2013, designated him for a third term as Vice Chairman. He served as Acting NTSB Chairman from April, 2014 until March 2015 and was confirmed by the Senate (by a unanimous vote of 97 yeas) in March 2015, as Chairman of the NTSB. Senator Cory Booker, in expressing his strong support for Chris’s nomination and confirmation as NTSB Chairman, noted the following in the Congressional Record on February 26, 2015:

Mr. Hart continues the tradition of his great uncle James Herman Banning, the first African American to receive a pilot’s license issued by the U.S. Government in 1926. As a pilot himself, and a true public servant, Mr. Hart will help the NTSB continue making a substantial positive impact on American public safety.

His professional credentials are particularly noteworthy. He received his J.D. degree from Harvard University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in aerospace engineering from Princeton University. Also, he is a licensed pilot with commercial, multi engine and instrument ratings.

To better appreciate the breadth of Chris’s knowledge of the various transportation industries and the depth of his critical thinking on safety issues, we encourage Plane-ly Spoken readers to sample his speeches and Congressional testimony statements on the NTSB website . In particular, he has offered penetrating analysis on the risks and benefits of automation in transportation and the criminalization of transportation accidents.

While we all will miss Chris’s expertise as an NTSB Board Member, Acting Chairman, and Chairman, we look forward to his continued activities in improving transportation safety.

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