NTSB's Aviation Safety Office Director Retires
Managing Director David Mayer said Tom Haueter "exemplifies what it takes to be a strong leader in federal service: technical knowledge, people skills, and political sensitivity."
Tom Haueter, director of the National Transportation Safety Board's Office of Aviation Safety, retires June 1 after 28 years of service with the agency. "Tom's retirement is a big loss of institutional knowledge and leadership," NTSB Managing Director David Mayer said, adding that Haueter "exemplifies what it takes to be a strong leader in federal service: technical knowledge, people skills, and political sensitivity."
NTSB posted a profile of Haueter, saying he comes from an aviation family: His father was an aeronautical engineer and his grandfather had started flying after World War I and introduced his grandson to flying in a Piper Cub. "Tom's first flight, in a Cessna 170, was with the same instructor who taught John Glenn to fly. It's likely those elder Haueters would not be surprised to know that those touch and goes at Beach City Airport in Beach City, Ohio, and flights throughout the Midwest were just early waypoints on a trip that would take their young airman all over the world and to the top aviation position at the National Transportation Safety Board," according to NTSB's report.
It says Haueter earned a commercial pilot's certificate during high school before getting a degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Purdue University. He eventually joined NTSB in 1984 to review safety recommendations and subsequently wrote hundreds of them.
He later became an airworthiness investigator and an Investigator in Charge. "One of his early domestic accident investigations as an IIC was the 1991 crash of an Embraer 120 in Brunswick, Georgia, which claimed the lives of all 23 persons aboard," the profile says. 'We had literally no data from that accident,' Haueter recalls, 'and ended up in Brazil at Embraer doing flight tests.' The investigation's findings and recommendations led to a redesign of the EMB-120 propeller control unit."
Other aviation accidents he investigated included a USAir B737 crash in September 1994 in which the final report brought about a redesign of the rudder control system on all B737s; and assisting the U.S. Air Force in the investigation of the 1996 crash near Dubrovnik, Croatia, that killed a U.S. trade delegation headed by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. He became chief of major aviation investigations in 1996, Aviation Safety deputy director in 2000, and director in 2007.