Aviation Accident Investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent Federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in the other modes of transportation -- railroad, highway, marine and pipeline -- and issuing safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. The Safety Board determines the probable cause of:

  • all U.S. civil aviation accidents and certain public-use aircraft accidents;
  • selected highway accidents;
  • railroad accidents involving passenger trains or any train accident that results in at least one fatality or major property damage;
  • major marine accidents and any marine accident involving a public and a nonpublic vessel;
  • pipeline accidents involving a fatality or substantial property damage;
  • releases of hazardous materials in all forms of transportation; and
  • selected transportation accidents that involve problems of a recurring nature.

Since its inception in 1967, the NTSB has investigated more than 124,000 aviation accidents and over 10,000 surface transportation injury accidents. In so doing, it has become one of the world's premier accident investigation agencies.
Under federal law, the National Transportation Safety Board is responsible for investigating and determining the probable cause of every civil aviation accident in the United States (and certain public use aircraft, such as those owned by state and municipal governments). It estimates that approximately 83% of all general aviation accidents are attributable to pilot error.

In aviation accidents, the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) commonly referred to as "black boxes" - are transported to the Board's headquarters building for read out. The transcript of the CVR is ultimately provided by the Board. The NTSB obtains a copy of the recorded audio communications between the flight crew and air traffic controllers from the FAA for its investigation. The FAA will usually release the audio air traffic control communications and transcript to the public weeks after the aviation accident.

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the government agency responsible for the safety of civil aviation. The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created the agency under the name Federal Aviation Agency. The FAA adopted its present name in 1967 when it became a part of the Department of Transportation. The FAA regulates civil aviation, issues and enforces regulations and minimum standards covering manufacturing, operating, and maintaining aircraft. It certifies airmen and airports that serve air carriers. The FAA operates a network of airport towers, air route traffic control centers, and flight service stations and develops air traffic rules, assigns the use of airspace, and controls air traffic.
  • The FAA builds or installs visual and electronic aids to air navigation and maintains and operates these facilities. It also sustains other systems to support air navigation and air traffic control, including voice and data communications equipment, radar facilities, computer systems, and visual display equipment at flight service stations. Aviation accidents caused by the negligence of air traffic control or other government personnel may subject the federal government to liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial air plane, charter airplane, helicopter or a private air plane, contact a Florida aviation accident attorney at Hannon Legal Group today.