UPDATE 1-U.S. Senate confirms Homendy to head transportation safety board

(Adds details on Homendy)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, Aug 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed Jennifer Homendy by voice vote to chair the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the independent federal agency charged with investigating all civil aviation and other transportation accidents.

Homendy, 49, has served on the board since August 2018 and previously was a senior legislative staffer working on transportation issues.

She was the on-scene board member during the investigation into the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed Los Angeles basketball great Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others, as well as a September 2019 dive ship fire that killed 34 people off the California coast.

Homendy previously has criticized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for failing to ensure that driver assistance systems or nascent self-driving vehicles are safe. In an NTSB probe into a fatal March 2018 Uber self-driving crash, Homendy said NHTSA had “put technology advancement here before saving lives.”

In a concurring statement filed in March 2020 on a board investigation into a fatal Tesla crash, Homendy said, “The most dangerous way to travel in our country is on the road,” noting that more than 36,000 people are killed annually. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Leslie Adler)