National Transportation Safety Board Regulations

National Transportation Safety Board Seal


  • The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the FAA organization responsible for investigating accidents to find the causal factors to prevent them from occurring in the future
  • Following a defined event, the NTSB takes interest
  • The aviation community requires notifications and reports to know when to get involved
  • The investigation archive is an excellent source for lessons learned and case studies:
  • As a first responder, be aware of preservation requirements


  • Accident:

    • Any person suffers death or serious injury or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage
    • The operator of the aircraft must file an accident report within ten days or seven days if overdue aircraft is still missing
  • Incident:

    • An occurrence other than an accident that affects or could affect the safety of operations
    • The operator of the aircraft is required to submit a report to the nearest NTSB field office when requested
  • Operator:

    • Any person who causes or authorizes the operation of an aircraft
    • Ex: owner, lessee of an aircraft
  • Substantial Damage:

    • Damage or failure that adversely affects the structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics of the aircraft and would usually require significant repair or replacement
    • Not Considered Substantial Damage:
      • Engine failure or damage limited to an engine if only one engine fails or is damaged
      • Bent fairings or cowling
      • Dented skin
      • Small punctured holes in the skin or fabric
      • Ground damage to rotor or propeller blades
      • Damage to landing gear, wheels, tires, flaps, engine accessories, brakes, or wingtips

Notifications & Reports:

  • Immediate Notification:

    • Any aircraft involved in an accident requires an immediate notification be submitted
    • Any of the following incidents:
      • Flight control system malfunction or failure
      • The Inability of a required crew-member to perform normal duties
      • In-flight fire
      • Aircraft collide in flight
      • Damage to property other than aircraft exceeding $25,000
      • An overdue aircraft believed to be involved in an accident
  • Reporting:

    • If, as the operator of an aircraft, you are involved in an accident, you are required to file a report within 10-days
    • If, as the operator of an aircraft, you are involved in an incident, you may be required to file a report
    • If an aircraft is involved in an accident that results in substantial damage, you are required to file a report immediately
    • If an overdue aircraft is still missing, you are required t file a report within 7-days


  • The site must be preserved, and therefore nothing moved, for investigators to see things as they impacted
  • Exceptions include:
    • Protecting mail
    • Protecting cargo
    • Protecting documents


  • To date, the NTSB has issued over 13,000 safety recommendations to more than 2,500 recipients
  • Because the NTSB has no formal authority to regulate the transportation industry, its effectiveness depends on its reputation for conducting thorough, accurate, and independent investigations and for producing timely, well-considered recommendations to enhance transportation safety
  • The NTSB Aviation Database is an incredibly useful tool for pilots to learn from others mistakes
    • Consider reviewing NTSB reports by your aircraft type, your operation, and by airport
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