Senate Confirms Homendy as NTSB Chair

Agency Investigating Boeing, Baltimore Bridge, East Palestine Derailment
Jennifer Homendy
Jennifer Homendy has headed NTSB since being confirmed as chair in August 2021. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg News)

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The Senate recently confirmed Jennifer Homendy to continue to lead the National Transportation Safety Board.

On May 14, the upper chamber easily signed off on Homendy’s reappointment as chairwoman of the high-profile independent investigative agency.

“Jennifer Homendy has guided the NTSB through some of the most high-profile transportation accidents this nation has seen in recent memory — from the East Palestine train derailment to the Alaska Airlines door plug accident and now the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse,” Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said soon after the confirmation.

“We’re fortunate that Chair Homendy will continue leading the agency’s critical investigative work with independence and integrity and will continue advocating for ways to make the nation’s transportation system safer for Americans. I’m glad we were able to reauthorize the NTSB for five years, with new tools and resources needed to thoroughly investigate accidents across the country,” the Washington senator added.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Commerce Committee ranking member, championed the bipartisan support for the nominee. Last month, Cruz said, “She has correctly observed the dangers of electric vehicles because of their increased weight and the risk of battery fires. She has worked diligently to investigate several high-profile transportation incidents, such as the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio; the door plug blowout of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282; and, most recently, the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.”

Sens. Maria Cantwell and Ted Cruz

Cantwell and Cruz 

At a congressional hearing a day following her confirmation, Homendy articulated the agency’s mission: “We determine the probable causes of the accidents and events we investigate and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing future occurrences. In addition, we conduct transportation safety research studies and offer information and other assistance to family members and survivors for each accident or event we investigate.”

“We also,” Homendy continued, “serve as the appellate authority for enforcement actions involving aviation and mariner certificates issued by the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Coast Guard, respectively, and we adjudicate appeals of civil penalty actions taken by the FAA.”

Responding to questions from senators, the NTSB leader presented the agency’s investigative modus operandi: “The NTSB’s investigative process is explicitly designed to ensure urgent safety issues can be addressed before we complete an investigation.”

High on NTSB’s agenda are ongoing investigations about domestic aviation mishaps associated with Boeing, the Baltimore bridge collapse and last year’s derailment in Ohio. NTSB’s report about the derailment is expected to be released next month.

Homendy was recently nominated by President Joe Biden to a three-year appointment as NTSB’s chairwoman. She has headed the agency since 2021. Per background the White House published in March: “She has presided over numerous public meetings to deliberate and finalize NTSB investigations in all modes of transportation, provided expert testimony at the federal and state levels on a wide range of transportation safety issues and launched with the NTSB ‘Go Team’ on myriad investigations. She is a staunch advocate for improving safety across all modes of transportation.”

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