Monday, January 28, 2013

Aviation’s Iron Lady: NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman

Juggling Boeing’s meltdown and bureaucratic tension with the much larger FAA, top federal transportation investigator Deborah Hersman is the steely new face of sky patrol. 

January 28, 2013 12:10 PM EST

By Clive Irving

There’s a new, tough energy in the nation’s leading accident investigation agency, and its face is Deborah Hersman.

Aviation industry insiders have been surprised by the bluntness of public statements made by Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, about the investigation into battery fires on board the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

“I’m glad to see her taking the lead,” says John Goglia, a former NTSB investigator with more than 40 years experience in the industry. “These are not state secrets, this is an issue of public safety and they should be giving regular updates.”

From the moment when NTSB inspectors arrived in Boston in the wake of a battery fire on a Japan Airlines 787 two weeks ago, the agency has stressed the seriousness of the problem and made very explicit the hazard it represents.

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