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What is the NTSB and how is it related to aviation accidents?

UPDATED: February 20, 2013

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The NTSB refers to the National Transportation Safety Board, an independently operated institution that is affiliated with the United States government. The NTSB is the independent federal agency in the United States that's responsible for the investigation of accidents and incidents involving transportation within any civil jurisdiction. The NTSB is responsible for all transportation that's related to or funded by the US government, as well as transportation that's required to meet certain government standards. This includes almost every form of transportation within the US and can include everything from ship accidents to airline crashes.

How does the NTSB exercise control over aviation accidents?

The NTSB has a number of responsibilities related to aviation crashes, meaning any accident involving an aircraft. These responsibilities include the following:

  • The NTSB maintains the government's database on civil aviation accidents and conducts special studies of transportation safety issues of national significance.
  • Typically aviation accidents that fall under the purview of the NTSB involve airplanes. This includes commercial airlines because commercial airlines are required to meet governmental standards and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the NTSB. However, the NTSB works with helicopter incidents as well.
  • The NTSB also provides investigators to serve as U.S. representatives when aviation accidents overseas involve U.S. - registered aircraft or major components of U.S. manufacturers, or when this representation is requested by foreign governments.

Assuming the accident falls under the purview of the NTSB, there are a number of roles the agency will play, including the following:

  • The NTSB is involved in aviation accidents as a victim’s advocate, assisting in providing information to those affected by the crash. 
  • The NTSB will also likely be in charge of, or an integral part of, any FAA investigation and information-gathering occurring during the aftermath of the crash. 
  • The NTSB also issues safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. 

The NTSB also deals with other types of incidents, including hazardous waste spills (which take place during transportation). The agency is located in Washington, DC and has been in operation since 1967.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an aviation accident, the NTSB or an experienced lawyer can help you find answers to your questions. 

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