Panel approves Obama NTSB pick

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved President Obama’s nominee to lead the National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday. 

Obama nominated acting NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart to a full term atop the accident investigatory panel last summer. 

Hart took over the helm of the NTSB in April 2014 when long-time former NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman left the agency to pursue a career with an independent transportation safety advocacy group. 

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Hart has been a member of the NTSB since 2009, and he was the panel’s vice chairman prior to becoming its acting chief. Hart’s initial appointment to the safety panel was also by Obama. 

He has overseen the agency’s investigation of a recent spate of public transportation accidents that have caused lawmakers to question the safety of U.S. transit systems, including a recent fatal incident on the Washington, D.C., Metrorail subway system and commuter rail crashes in New York and California. 

Hart will have to be approved by the full Senate before he becomes the full-time chief of the NTSB.