The 2019 Westminster Lecture on Transport Safety

The 2019 Westminster Lecture on Transport Safety

The 2019 PACTS Westminster Lecture on Transport Safety, in partnership with IMEchE 

Lessons from the Ashes:

Improving transportation safety through accident investigation

PACTS has been highlighting the importance of in-depth accident investigation that focuses on learning and prevention, for all transport modes. We are delighted that Robert Sumwalt, Chairman of the US National Transportation Safety Board and expert in accident investigation, has agreed to deliver the PACTS 2019 Westminster Lecture on Transport Safety – the 29th in the series. We are holding this event on the evening of 4th December in partnership with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at their prestigious Westminster headquarters. Members of both organisations are welcome; others by invitation.

Robert L. Sumwalt,

Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board, United States Government

Honorable Robert L. Sumwalt

Robert L. Sumwalt was sworn in as the 14th chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board on August 10, 2017, after being nominated by President Donald J. Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He was reappointed as chairman by President Trump on August 5, 2019, after being unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Chairman Sumwalt began his tenure at the NTSB in August 2006 when President George W. Bush appointed him to the Board and designated him as Vice Chairman of the Board. In November 2011, President Barack Obama reappointed Mr. Sumwalt to an additional five-year term as Board Member.

Under Chairman Sumwalt’s leadership, the agency’s ranking in the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government has advanced 33 percent to the agency’s current position of Number 6 of 29 small federal agencies. He is a fierce advocate for improving safety in all modes of transportation, including teen driver safety, impaired driving, distractions in transportation, and several aviation and rail safety initiatives.

Before joining the NTSB, Chairman Sumwalt was a pilot for 32 years, including 24 years with Piedmont Airlines and US Airways. He accumulated over 14,000 flight hours. During his tenure at US Airways, he worked on special assignment to the flight safety department and served on the airline’s Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) monitoring team.

Following his airline career, Chairman Sumwalt managed the corporate aviation department for a Fortune 500 energy company.

In other notable accomplishments, he chaired the Air Line Pilots Association’s Human Factors and Training Group and co-founded the association’s critical incident response program. He also spent eight years as a consultant to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) and has written extensively on aviation safety matters. He has co-authored a book on aircraft accidents and has published more than 100 articles on transportation safety and aircraft accident investigation.

Chairman Sumwalt earned an undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Aeronautical Science (with Distinction) from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, with concentrations in aviation/aerospace safety systems and human factors aviation systems. In recognition of his accomplishments, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina, and an honorary doctorate from Embry-Riddle. He is an inductee into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame.


Date:               Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 6pm

Location:       Institution of Mechanical Engineers, One Birdcage Walk, London, W1H 9JJ

Refreshments will be served. Further details will be announced.

Attendance is for PACTS and IMechE members and guests, by invitation only. Any queries please contact


Please note: On Thursday 5th December, PACTS and IMechE will be holding a one-day Driver and Pilot Alertness seminar at IMechE. This is a paid event, open to all. For details, please see


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