National Transportation Safety Board Regulations


  • The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the FAA organization responsible for investigating accidents in order to find the causal factors to prevent them from occurring in the future
  • The investigation archive is an excellent source for lessons learned and case studies:


  • 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 10 days or 7 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 normally require major 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
  • Immediate Notification:
    • Any aircraft accident
    • Any of the following incidents:
      • Flight control system malfunction or failure
      • 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 that is believed to be involved in an accident


  • 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