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August 1, 2018 10:00 AM, EDT
Senate Confirms Jennifer Homendy, Bruce Landsberg to NTSB
Bruce Landsberg Bruce Landsberg by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

The United States Senate recently confirmed two new members to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Jennifer Homendy, a Democratic staffer on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Bruce Landsberg, former president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, won easy confirmation on July 24 to serve on the independent investigative agency.

Homendy will serve the remainder of a five-year term that expires at the end of 2019. Prior to this appointment, she had since 2004 served as the staff director of the Senate’s Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. In this capacity she assisted lawmakers on legislation pertaining to railroads, oil and natural gas pipelines, and the transport of hazardous materials. Prior to that, she was a legislative representative for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and had worked for the Transportation Trades Department at the AFL-CIO. During her confirmation hearing earlier this year, Homendy told the Senate Commerce Committee she values the investigations conducted at NTSB.

“The board’s work informs decision-making of regulators in Congress. They help industries identify deficiencies and make vital safety improvements and they provide hope to grieving families that something positive will come from their tragic loss,” Homendy said, adding, “Over the past 14 years, I’ve listened closely as families recount the tragedies they’ve experienced. I understand their need for answers and their strong desire to find solutions to prevent future accidents and loss of life.”

Landsberg will serve a five-year term, two of which as vice-chairman. Prior to a lengthy affiliation with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, he was the industry co-chairman of the runway safety program for the Federal Aviation Administration, according to background provided by the White House. Landsberg emphasized to the Commerce Committee during his confirmation hearing last year the significance of data collection.

“There is a fine balance between appropriate and essential regulation for the protection of life and practical recommendations that allow as much freedom and innovation consistent with safety. By learning from past tragedies across all modes, there is great opportunity. As accidents become fewer and data collection improves, looking for precursors to high-risk operations and situations becomes the next frontier. Data leads the way, but safety first, always,” Landsberg said.

Industry groups praised the confirmations. Shortly after the Senate votes, American Trucking Associations and the National Business Aviation Association congratulated the nominees.

“Bruce Landsberg is one of the most knowledgeable and passionate safety proponents our industry has ever seen and his expertise across several aspects of aviation safety will make him a valued addition to the NTSB,” NBAA CEO Ed Bolen said. He added, “NBAA welcomes Jennifer Homendy to her new post at NTSB. … The association has always had a positive relationship with all NTSB members, and we’re confident this spirit of collaboration will continue with this new addition to the board.”

A few transportation nominees continue to await a vote in the Senate. Those include Heidi King for the administrator post at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Diana Furchtgott-Roth to be an assistant Secretary of Transportation for research and technology, and Leon Westmoreland to be on Amtrak’s board of directors.