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Amtrak has hired Ken Hylander as the railroad's executive vice president and chief safety officer. A former aviation industry executive, Hylander most recently served as chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation and previously was chief safety officer at Delta Airlines.Hylander, who will report directly to Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson, will be responsible for implementing a safety management system (SMS) at Amtrak.
"We are improving safety at Amtrak. Keeping our customers and employees safe is our most important responsibility and a high-quality safety management system is a requirement for Amtrak," said Anderson in a press release issued yesterday.
"Ken is a recognized leader in the implementation and operation of SMS, and his experience will be instrumental in helping build our safety culture," Anderson added.SMS is a proactive risk management system that builds on predictive safety management methods. It has been used in many industries, including aviation, health care and energy.Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that Amtrak implement an SMS program as one of several recommendations for improving the railroad's safety culture.Hylander's hiring comes in the wake of last month's fatal Amtrak derailment in Washington state. Three people died and dozens more were injured when an Amtrak Cascades train derailed on an overpass near DuPont, Washington.Hylander's career experience includes more than three decades of service in aviation. He retired as a senior vice president from Delta Air Lines in 2014, where he oversaw the SMS implementation at Delta and managed the occupational, operating safety, security, quality and environmental compliance programs.He was Northwest Airlines' chief safety officer prior to the airline's merger with Delta. Before joining Northwest in 1997 as a vice president, he spent nearly 17 years at United Airlines.