About NTSB NTSB investigates: –Every civil aviation accident in the U.S. –Significant accidents in other modes: Railroad Highway Marine Oil/gas pipeline –Internationally Accidents involving U.S. citizens or corporations Assists on other large foreign investigations
About NTSB The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent federal agency. Duties: –Accident investigation Determine probable cause Make recommendations to prevent similar accidents
Emergency Response NTSB must be notified of an accident by most expeditious means possible. Operator of vehicle is responsible for preserving wreckage as much as possible.
On-site Investigation In all accidents in which criminal activity is not suspected, NTSB will conduct on-site investigation. Usually one to two week long Interviews with witnesses Site testing All information collected by NTSB will be used in ensuing investigation.
Party Participant System Parties include agencies/companies who were involved in the accident and can assist in the investigation. Can include vehicle/engine manufacturer, operator, employees union (e.g. ALPA), federal agency (FAA, FRA and others). Participation as a party is a privilege – not a right –Status can be removed for rules violation.
Party Participation System (contd) Parties may not be a person who has interests beyond safety in investigation. No persons in legal positions (even in- house General Counsels). Strict confidentiality enforced between party participants. Third-party discussions with media can result in revocation of party status.
Factual Reports Each party and NTSBs technical team puts together a factual report. Factual reports detail accident and highlight issues each party finds pertinent. Purpose is to foster a 360 degree look at the accident, not to establish liability.
Public Hearing Factual portion of investigation launched with public hearing, chaired by a Board Member. Conducted in accordance with 49 CFR Part 845 Parties participate in public hearing.
Final Report Boards technical team receives all party submissions and creates a draft final report. Public Board meeting held for Board to vote on: –Findings –Probable Cause –Recommendations Final report issued to public usually one hour after meeting adjourned.
Use of Final Report in Court NTSBs findings of probable cause and contributing factors not admissible.
Use of Final Report in Court... no part of any report of the NTSB, relating to an accident or the investigation thereof, may be admitted as evidence or used in any civil action for damages resulting from a matter mentioned in the report. 49 U.S.C.A. § 1154(b).
Use of Final Report in Court Factual findings may be allowed into evidence by the court. –Factual group reports –Factual findings in final report –Deposition of investigator
What Can You Do When Disaster Strikes Prepare in Advance. Get Help Early. Cooperate. Proactively Seek Party Status. Participate Actively In Technical Groups. Prepare for Hearing.
Reconsideration Although Final Report is end of the investigative process, investigations never formally close. At any time, participants may petition NTSB to reconsider findings and probable cause if: –The party shows NTSBs findings are erroneous and a mistake was made in original assessment of probable cause; OR –The party discovers new evidence that would require modification of the original findings and probable cause.