If you are an operator in aviation, Federal regulations require you to notify the NTSB immediately of aviation accidents and certain incidents. See
49 CFR 830.
If you witnessed an accident, please read the Witness Reports section on this page.
A Guide to Responding to A Transportation Accident
Call our 24-hour Response Operations Center (ROC) at
844-373-9922. After you call us, we might ask you for a follow-up written description. When you call, have the following information on hand:
- Type, nationality, and registration marks of the aircraft;
- Name of owner, and operator of the aircraft;
- Name of the pilot-in-command;
- Date and time of the accident;
- Last point of departure and point of intended landing of the aircraft;
- Position of the aircraft with reference to some easily defined geographical point;
- Number of persons aboard, number killed, and number seriously injured;
- Nature of the accident, the weather and the extent of damage to the aircraft, so far as is known;
- A description of any explosives, radioactive materials, or other dangerous articles carried.
Next Steps for Operators
After evaluating a reported accident or incident, we will determine whether we will conduct the investigation. If we investigate the event, an investigator will contact you for more information.
Our investigator will require you to complete NTSB Form 6120.1 –
Pilot Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report. You can edit and save the form-fillable version repeatedly, using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader (or equivalent software). Or simply print it and fill it out manually.
DO NOT submit the form until an investigator contacts you with instructions regarding where to send the form. Forms can be submitted by email, FAX, or traditional postal services.
DO NOT submit a report form in lieu of providing an initial notification of an aircraft accident to the ROC.
Preserve the Scene
As the operator of the aircraft involved in an accident, you are responsible for preserving aircraft wreckage, recorders, documents, etc., until such time as the NTSB or its authorized representative takes custody of such items. See
49 CFR 830.10.
Wreckage may be disturbed only to:
- remove persons injured or trapped;
- protect the wreckage from further damage; or
- protect the public from injury.
After being notified of an accident, we may or may not take custody of wreckage. 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 to move wreckage, contact the investigator assigned to the case, or the ROC.
If you witnessed an aircraft accident and would like to provide the NTSB with a statement of your observations, please prepare a statement and email it to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include a telephone number so that an investigator can contact you if necessary.
49 CFR 830.2
Aircraft accident means an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which 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. For purposes of this part, the definition of “aircraft accident” includes “unmanned aircraft accident,” as defined herein.
Civil aircraft means any aircraft other than a public aircraft.
Fatal injury means any injury which results in death within 30 days of the accident.
Incident means an occurrence other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations.
Operator means any person who causes or authorizes the operation of an aircraft, such as the owner, lessee, or bailee of an aircraft.
Public aircraft means an aircraft used only for the United States Government, or an aircraft owned and operated (except for commercial purposes) or exclusively leased for at least 90 continuous days by a government other than the United States Government, including a State, the District of Columbia, a territory or possession of the United States, or a political subdivision of that government. “Public aircraft” does not include a government-owned aircraft transporting property for commercial purposes and does not include a government-owned aircraft transporting passengers other than: transporting (for other than commercial purposes) crewmembers or other persons aboard the aircraft whose presence is required to perform, or is associated with the performance of, a governmental function such as firefighting, search and rescue, law enforcement, aeronautical research, or biological or geological resource management; or transporting (for other than commercial purposes) persons aboard the aircraft if the aircraft is operated by the Armed Forces or an intelligence agency of the United States. Notwithstanding any limitation relating to use of the aircraft for commercial purposes, an aircraft shall be considered to be a public aircraft without regard to whether it is operated by a unit of government on behalf of another unit of government pursuant to a cost reimbursement agreement, if the unit of government on whose behalf the operation is conducted certifies to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration that the operation was necessary to respond to a significant and imminent threat to life or property (including natural resources) and that no service by a private operator was reasonably available to meet the threat.
Serious injury means any injury which:
- Requires hospitalization for more than 48 hours, commencing within 7 days from the date of the injury was received;
- results in a fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose);
- causes severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle, or tendon damage;
- involves any internal organ; or
- involves second- or third-degree burns, or any burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface.
Substantial damage means damage or failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics of the aircraft, and which would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component. 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, and damage to landing gear, wheels, tires, flaps, engine accessories, brakes, or wingtips are not considered “substantial damage” for the purpose of this part.
Uncrewed aircraft accident means an occurrence associated with the operation of any public or civil uncrewed aircraft system that takes place between the time that the system is activated with the purpose of flight and the time that the system is deactivated at the conclusion of its mission, in which:
- Any person suffers death or serious injury; or
- The aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater and substains substantial damage.