It’s been about a year and a half since many local history buffs boarded a World War II era bomber in Windsor Locks.
Seven people were killed when it crashed at Bradley International Airport on Oct. 2, 2019. Others were seriously injured.
The National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for stricter regulations and safety standards for flights like these.
They’re asking the Federal Aviation Administration to step up its oversight of revenue-passenger flights like the B17 participating in a 'living history' tour event.
“Now most passengers don’t know and don’t even care for the most part what rules govern their flight, they expect that the operator and the FAA are ensuring their safety, and for the most part they are,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt, during the public hearing.
The NTSB made six recommendations to the FAA on Tuesday, including a need for national safety standards and increased inspection.
They cited examples of eight deadly crashes, like the one here in Connecticut, as evidence for the need for change.
During the hearing, for example, an investigator criticized the conditions of the B17 owned by the Collings Foundation.
“The level of FAA oversight was insufficient to identify and correct safety deficiencies, including the inadequate maintenance of the airplane while it was on tour,” said Capt. David Lawrence, senior accident investigator.
The Collings Foundation has continued to say they can’t comment as they’re part of the NTSB’s investigation.
In a statement the FAA said:
“The FAA has a close working relationship with the NTSB, and the two agencies share a common goal of promoting aviation safety and preventing aircraft accidents. The FAA has a number of initiatives under way to improve the safety of operations conducted under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. We take NTSB recommendations very seriously and will carefully consider all of the recommendations and input the Board provided today.”
The FAA said they already have initiatives underway to improve safety of such flights, like updated safety inspector guidance for living history flights.
Once the complete report from the NTSB is published, the FAA has 90 days to respond.
Now it’s to be seen if they’ll take action, as many aviation and history experts, as well as loved ones impacted by crashes, keep a close eye on the developments of these regulations.
“I want to stress right now that nobody here wants to eliminate these type of operations. Many of us are pilots, many of us have participated in parachute jumps…and other aerial adventure flights, but we all want the safety of operations to improve where there is room for improvement,” said Sumwalt.
The NTSB tells NBC Connecticut that the final report for the deadly B17 crash is expected to be published within the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, victims and family members of the B17 crash are suing the owner of the plane, the Collings Foundation.
When asked for a comment, the foundation has continued to send us this statement:
"In order to obtain technical experience and expertise, the National Transportation Safety Board made The Collings Foundation a party to the pending accident investigation. In that role, the Foundation is prohibited, both by the Certification of Party Representative and by federal regulations, from commenting on this matter and disseminating information that is the subject of this investigation."
A lawyer for a family of one of the victims told us via email Tuesday: “We are gratified that the NTSB is taking a hard look at this issue and are hopeful that needed regulatory changes will be ordered so that no one else has to go through what these families have gone through.”