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Kern Award Winner Bruce Landsberg: NTSB Appointment Caps Career Dedicated to Aviation Safety

Jan. 12, 2022

Bruce Landsberg has been on a career-long quest to improve aviation safety. In his current position as vice chair of the NTSB, however, he is having the opportunity of a lifetime to help effect significant advancements in aviation safety and other transportation modes as well.

“At NTSB, our mandate is beyond accident investigations,” said Landsberg. “Our job is to improve safety.” The only active pilot on the board, Landsberg regularly commutes to Washington, DC in his A36 Beechcraft Bonanza from his home in coastal South Carolina and is well aware of the importance of being a user of the aviation system.

“I know what is and isn’t working,” he noted. “I see it first-hand. From my perspective, you shouldn’t be making the rules if you don’t play the game.”

Landsberg, who is one of this year’s recipients of NBAA’s Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation award, avers that the FAA’s PIREP and NOTAM programs are indeed broken, and has been on a decades-long mission to fix that.

“The NOTAM process is pretty much universally regarded as a mess,” said Landsberg, who is pressuring the FAA to make much-needed changes, some of which have been mandated by Congress.

“PIREPS also don’t work well,” he said, noting that the reporting process through ATC is cumbersome and that newer technologies can provide much more accurate and timely data on such phenomena as icing, turbulence, wind shear and much more. Now in his fourth year on the board, Landsberg is committed to working with the FAA to make positive changes on these and other important aviation safety concerns.

Since Landsberg joined the NTSB, the backlog in producing reports on general aviation accidents has declined significantly, from about two years to about six months or less. “We are trying to speed up the process without compromising quality,” said Landsberg.

A 7,000-hour pilot and former flight instructor, Landsberg served in the U.S. Air Force as a missile launch officer after graduating from college. A stint at Cessna managing the company’s Air Age Education department then led to a position as a product marketing manager at FlightSafety International.

Prior to joining NTSB, however, Landsberg was probably best known as the longtime executive director/president of AOPA’s Air Safety Institute/AOPA Foundation, where for many years he led nationwide efforts to develop and expand general aviation safety programs, working closely with the FAA and NTSB. His monthly column on aviation safety in AOPA Pilot magazine was a must-read for many pilots.

Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award

Seven individuals were selected to receive the NBAA Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award in 2021. Created in 2015 to honor Dr. Tony Kern, this peer-nominated award recognizes individual pilots, maintenance technicians, flight attendants, dispatchers and other aviation professionals who excel in leadership in the areas of professional ethics, vocational excellence, continuous improvement, professional engagement, professional image and selflessness.

Learn more about the NBAA Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award.

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