Robert Sumwalt, U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman, was in Anchorage and hosted members of the aviation community at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.

Sumwalt wanted to learn how to make chartered flights — or Part 135 Flight Operations as they are formally known — safer around Alaska. Sumwalt said a lack of infrastructure is one of the big problems facing the industry

"The weather reporting capability is lacking at most of the airports in this state," he said.

The NTSB has investigated over 200 chartered flight crashes around the state since 2008. Those crashes claimed over 80 lives.

"We need to ensure that the pilots who are operating those airplanes have adequate training for the mission, for the flight that they're planning, as well as any reasonable contingencies," Sumwalt said.

The forum at UAA was the first of its kind, and the head of Ravn Alaska called it a good first step.

"If we can do something, share information amongst all of us, work with the NTSB recommendations, it will ultimately raise the bar for safety for all of Alaska, we all benefit," said Ravn President and CEO Dave Flieger.

"We've talked about problems, we've talked about solutions," Sumwalt said, as the trick now is how to turn all that talk into action.

Improving Part 135 Flight Operations is one of NTSB's top priorities for 2019.

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