Aircraft Accident & Incident Reporting


Occurrences Requiring Notification:

  • Manned Aircraft:

    • The operator of an aircraft must immediately, and by the most expeditious means available, notify the nearest National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Field Office when:
      • Flight control system malfunction or failure
      • Inability of any required flight crew member to perform their normal flight duties as a result of injury or illness
      • Failure of structural components of a turbine engine excluding compressor and turbine blades and vanes
      • Inflight fire
      • Aircraft collide in flight
      • Damage to property, other than the aircraft, estimated to exceed $25,000 for repair (including materials and labor) or fair market value in the event of total loss, whichever is less
      • For large multi-engine aircraft (more than 12,500 pounds maximum certificated takeoff weight):
        • Inflight failure of electrical systems which requires the sustained use of an emergency bus powered by a back-up source such as a battery, auxiliary power unit, or air-driven generator to retain flight control or essential instruments;
        • Inflight failure of hydraulic systems that results in sustained reliance on the sole remaining hydraulic or mechanical system for movement of flight control surfaces;
        • Sustained loss of the power or thrust produced by two or more engines; and
        • An evacuation of aircraft in which an emergency egress system is utilized
    • An aircraft is overdue and is believed to have been involved in an accident
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS):

    • A remote pilot in command must report any incident or accident that meets the reporting criteria below
    • The remote pilot in command has a limit of 10 calendar days (weekends count)
    • UAS Reporting Criteria:

      • Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or
      • Damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, unless one of the following conditions is satisfied:
        • The cost of repair (including materials and labor) does not exceed $500; or
        • The fair market value of the property does not exceed $500 in the event of total loss

Where to File the Reports:

  • The operator of an aircraft must file with the NTSB Field Office nearest the accident or incident any report required by this section
  • The NTSB Field Offices are listed under U.S. Government in the telephone directories in the following cities:
    • Anchorage, AK;
    • Atlanta, GA;
    • Chicago, IL;
    • Denver, CO;
    • Fort Worth, TX;
    • Los Angeles, CA;
    • Miami, FL;
    • Parsippany, NJ;
    • Seattle, WA

Manner of Notification:

  • The most expeditious method of notification to the NTSB by the operator will be determined by the circumstances existing at that time
  • The NTSB has advised that any of the following would be considered examples of the type of notification that would be acceptable:
    • Direct telephone notification
    • Telegraphic notification
    • Notification to the FAA who would in turn notify the NTSB by direct communication; i.e., dispatch or telephone

Items to be Included in Notification:

  • The notification required above must contain the following information, if available:
    • Type, nationality, and registration marks of the aircraft
    • Name of owner and operator of the aircraft
    • Name of the pilot-in-command
    • Date and time of the accident, or incident
    • Last point of departure, and point of intended landing of the aircraft
    • Position of the aircraft with reference to some easily defined geographical point
    • Number of persons aboard, number killed, and number seriously injured
    • Nature of the accident, or incident, the weather, and the extent of damage to the aircraft so far as is known; and
    • A description of any explosives, radioactive materials, or other dangerous articles carried

Follow-up Reports:

  • The operator must file a report on NTSB Form 6120.1 or 6120.2, available from NTSB Field Offices or from the NTSB, Washington, DC, 20594:
    • Within 10 days after an accident;
    • When, after 7 days, an overdue aircraft is still missing;
    • A report on an incident for which notification is required as described above must be filed only as requested by an authorized representative of the NTSB
  • Each crewmember, if physically able at the time the report is submitted, must attach a statement setting forth the facts, conditions, and circumstances relating to the accident or incident as they appeared. If the crewmember is incapacitated, a statement must be submitted as soon as physically possible


  • The goal of accident reported is not to leverage another requirement on a pilot but to try and identify a safety issue which can then be mixed
  • Pay particular attention to time-lines and report items early, if you are able to accurately do so, to allow investigators to do their job efficiently
  • Some reports are generated by ATC, including instances where an aircraft fails to (or even attempts) to takeoff and land on the wrong runway or taxiway
    • This generates a "wrong surface event"
  • Consider reports for any events, regardless of requirement to report, including wake turbulence