Malcolm Brenner, Ph.D.


1986-2012: Human Performance Specialist, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

  • Investigated human issues related to major transportation accidents as part of NTSB go-team, including issues of fatigue, speech analysis, operator impairment, training, crew resource management (CRM), decision-making, automation, vehicle design, corporate culture, regulatory oversight
  • Recipient of NTSB Chairman's Award
  • Recipient of NTSB Employee Peer Award
  • Instructor at NTSB Training Center on "Human Performance Investigation," "Investigating Human Fatigue," and "Witness Interviewing"
  • Served within NTSB as "National Resource Specialist -- Human Performance" and "Chief, Human Performance Division, Office of Aviation Safety"

1978-1986: Research Scientist/Expert Witness/Consultant on Human Performance

  • Expert Witness, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Expert Witness, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Consultant for defense and plaintiff clients concerning human performance issues in aviation accident litigation, including disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and general aviation accidents
  • Principle Scientist on contracts funded by NASA and U.S. Air Force to evaluate speech as a measure of operator workload


  • B.A. with distinction, Boston University, Boston, MA
  • M.A. Stanford University, Stanford, CA (Psychology)
  • Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (Psychology)
  • Private pilot license

Professional activities

  • Chapter President/Member, International Society of Air Safety Investigators
  • Invited speaker for Professional Meetings, including:
    • International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) Regional Human Factors Symposiums
    • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): Aviation Fatigue Management Symposium (2008)
  • Author of scientific papers published in Aviation, Space & Environmental Medicine and other professional journals
  • Recipient, National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship
  • Cited in popular media, including:
    • Bill Adair (2002). The Mystery of Flight 427: Inside a Crash Investigation. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press
    • Malcolm Gladwell (2008). Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown & Company
    • Discovery Channel: numerous TV documentary appearances such as in "Terror over Texas" (2012)

Select investigations

  • Grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker near Valdez AK (1989): developed new speech analysis technology to examine operator impairment by alcohol
  • USAir B-737 accident at Alequippa, PA (1994): longest investigation in Safety Board history, led to redesign/retrofit of Boeing 737 rudder control system
  • Midair collision of Aeronaves de Mexico OC-9 with Piper PA-28 over Cerritos CA (1986): Investigation recommendations helped lead to new u.S. regulatory requirement for TCAS collision-avoidance radar
  • Crash short of runway at Kirksville, MO of American Connection flight (2004): Investigation recommendations helped lead to new u.S. flight and duty time regulations
  • In-flight breakup of Continental Express Airlines flight at Eagle Lake TX (1991): Cited by ICAO for corporate culture investigation
  • Foreign authorities: supported numerous foreign investigations as member of U.S. NTSB team

Published on September 20th, 2019

Last updated on January 14th, 2020