Robert Sumwalt will serve as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board after the Senate confirmed him to the post Aug. 3.
Sumwalt, who had been acting chairman at the independent agency, had told senators he would focus on preventing deep budget cuts and maintaining adequate staff levels at NTSB. He also said he would look to ensure the agency maintains its “edge.”
“I believe in investing in people by providing training, and I am fearful that, due to budgetary restrictions, we may run into a situation where we don’t have enough resources to provide training to maintain our edge,” Sumwalt wrote in a questionnaire to the Senate Commerce Committee.
“Technology is advancing, and the agency needs to be postured to address the investigation needs associated with those changes,” he added, noting unmanned aerial systems, autonomous vehicles and commercial space transportation as technological advancements.
Prior to his stint at NTSB, Sumwalt was a pilot for more than three decades. According to background posted on the agency’s website, he worked 24 years with Piedmont Airlines and US Airways.
He earned degrees at the University of South Carolina and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Sumwalt succeeded Christopher Hart, who remains on NTSB's board.