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Likely no major changes to air show safety rules

WASHINGTON - It's unlikely there will be significant changes to air show and air race safety rules despite an accident in Reno, Nev., last year that killed 11 people, a Federal Aviation Administration official said Tuesday.

WASHINGTON - It's unlikely there will be significant changes to air show and air race safety rules despite an accident in Reno, Nev., last year that killed 11 people, a Federal Aviation Administration official said Tuesday.

John McGraw, FAA's deputy director of flight standards service, told a public hearing of the National Transportation Safety Board that the agency is in the process of reviewing its safety regulations in response to an accident last September at air races in Reno in which a souped-up World War II warbird crashed in front of VIP boxes, firing debris into the crowd. Besides those killed, about 70 people were injured.

The agency expects to make some changes to clarify its existing safety regulations, but no substantive changes are anticipated, he said.

The Reno accident - the first spectator fatalities at either air races or an air show in the U.S. in more than half a century - as well as an uptick in pilots and other performers killed prompted the board to take a closer look at the industry's safety record. In addition to the pilot killed in Reno, five performers - three pilots and two wing walkers - were killed during air shows last year. In the two previous years there were no deaths.

"Air shows in the United States have enjoyed an extremely safe record," NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said.

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