Report an Aircraft Accident to the NTSB

Federal regulations require operators to notify the NTSB immediately of aviation accidents and certain incidents. An accident is defined as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft that takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage. An incident is an occurrence other than an accident that affects or could affect the safety of operations. (See 49 CFR 830.)

Contact the NTSB's 24-hour Response Operations Center (ROC) at 844-373-9922 to file a report. A phone call is sufficient initially, but a written follow-up may be required.

When giving a notification, what information will I need to provide?

When contacting the ROC, please be ready to provide the following information (49 CFR 830.6):

  1. Type, nationality, and registration marks of the aircraft;
  2. Name of owner, and operator of the aircraft;
  3. Name of the pilot-in-command;
  4. Date and time of the accident;
  5. Last point of departure and point of intended landing of the aircraft;
  6. Position of the aircraft with reference to some easily defined geographical point;
  7. Number of persons aboard, number killed, and number seriously injured;
  8. Nature of the accident, the weather and the extent of damage to the aircraft, so far as is known;
  9. A description of any explosives, radioactive materials, or other dangerous articles carried.

Contacting the NTSB ROC and providing the above listed items satisfies the reporting requires dictated by 49 CFR 830.5 – Immediate Notification.

What happens after I have notified the NTSB ROC?

After contacting the NTSB's 24-hour ROC, your notification will be taken and forwarded to the appropriate NTSB division for processing. The reported event will be evaluated and a determination will be made whether or not the NTSB will investigate the event. All aircraft accidents as defined by 49 CFR 830.2 are investigated in some capacity, as are select incidents. If an investigation is opened into an event, an investigator will then contact the operator/reporting party to request additional information.

Can I remove the aircraft from the accident site or otherwise disturb the wreckage?

49 CFR 830.10 – Preservation of aircraft wreckage, mail, cargo, and records, requires that operators preserve aircraft wreckage, recorders, documents, etc. following an aircraft accident until such time as the Board or its authorized representative takes custody of such items. The wreckage may be disturbed to remove persons injured or trapped; to protect the wreckage from further damage; or to protect the public from injury. After being notified of an accident, the NTSB may or may not take custody of wreckage, and at the discretion of the investigator-in-charge, may immediately release some or all of the wreckage for transport/recovery from the accident site. If you have any questions about whether or not it is appropriate to move wreckage, contact the NTSB investigator assigned to the case or the NTSB ROC.

I have already notified the NTSB ROC of the aircraft accident/incident and I am currently waiting for an NTSB investigator to contact me. Is there anything I can do in the interim to assist the investigation?

If the event meets the criteria of 49 CFR 830 and is determined to be an aircraft accident, the NTSB investigator assigned to the case will require the operator to complete NTSB Form 6120.1 – Pilot Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report. Should you be directed to complete Form 6120.1 – "Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report", please do as follows:

Filing of this report with the assigned investigator satisfies the requirements of 49 CFR 830.15 – Reports and statements to be filed. DO NOT submit a report form in-lieu of providing an initial notification of an aircraft accident to the NTSB ROC.

I witnessed an aircraft accident and would like to provide the NTSB with a statement of my observations.

Please prepare a statement and email it to witness@ntsb.gov. Please be sure to include a telephone number so that an investigator may contact you directly if necessary.