It is Supposed to Be About the Aircraft Accident

The National Transportation Safety Board came out with recommendations for the Lithium-Ion battery fires aboard the All Nippon and Japanese Airlines 787s. And though there are those staff professionals in the NTSB who are qualified, the NTSB really stepped outside their jurisdiction, to their own regret.
The NTSB has requirements for investigating an aircraft accident; Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations 830 speaks to what has to happen for an NTSB investigation to occur. Briefly, the NTSB will investigate: when an aircraft sustains substantial damage to structure, performance or flight characteristics; at least one fatality; and/or the accident takes place with the intent to fly from boarding to disembarking. Otherwise anything less belongs to the Federal Aviation Administration’s qualified staff. Why would this happen? Simply stated, the experience level and industry familiarity of the FAA far exceeds that of the NTSB.
If none of these issues affected either 787 incident, why did the NTSB investigate and why so intensely? It could have been political or pride, arrogance or ignorance; take your pick. The outcome put financial burdens on several aircraft manufacturers – not just Boeing; the others were also designing lithium-ion into their products. It cultivated fear and doubt from the flying public and belabored a ‘fix’ that should have been quicker and better engineered. Instead it dragged out because of the NTSB intrusion.
Not the NTSB’s finest hour.

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