The mission of the Office of Aviation Safety (AS) is to:
- Investigate all civil domestic air carrier, commuter, and air taxi accidents; in-flight collisions; fatal and nonfatal general aviation accidents; and certain public-use aircraft accidents; uncrewed aircraft systems accidents; and commercial space mishap accidents.
- Participate in the investigation of accidents in foreign countries that involve U.S. carriers, U.S.-manufactured or -designed equipment, or U.S. registered aircraft, to fulfill U.S. obligations under International Civil Aviation Organization agreements (NTSB’s Role in Foreign Aviation Investigations).
- Conduct investigations of safety issues that extend beyond a single accident to examine specific aviation safety problems from a broader perspective.
AS has the responsibility for investigating domestic aviation accidents and incidents (about 1,750 annually) and for proposing probable cause for the Board's approval. In conjunction with other offices within the NTSB, the office also works to formulate recommendations to prevent the recurrence of similar accidents and incidents, and to otherwise improve aviation safety.
The Office of Aviation Safety includes four regional offices spread throughout the United States to ensure that NTSB personnel are within closer proximity to accident sites as well as the six Headquarters division offices including:
- Air Carrier and Space Investigations Division takes the lead role in airline and commercial space investigations. It investigates all civil and certain public aircraft accidents and select incidents, as well as accidents involving launch or reentry of FAA licensed or permitted commercial space vehicles. The division also provides an accredited representative to support the investigations of civil aviation accidents that occur in other countries. For investigations that NTSB leads, the division assigns investigators-in-charge (IIC) to lead and manage the lifecycle of an air carrier/commercial space investigation, including assigning parties to the investigation.
Operational Factors Division examines issues related to air traffic control, flight operations, and meteorology, including providing meteorological support for surface mode investigations. Operational factors investigators serve as group chair in major aviation and commercial space investigations and conduct an objective and thorough technical investigation of the accident in order to prepare reports used to develop the final report and safety recommendations.
Office of Aviation Safety Aviation Engineering Division examines various areas relating to the accident aircraft or vehicle including powerplants, structures, systems, and maintenance records. Aviation engineering investigators serve as group chair in major aviation and commercial space investigations and conduct an objective and thorough technical investigation of the accident in order to prepare reports used to develop the final report and safety recommendations.
The Human Performance and Survival Factors Division focuses on the performance of persons whose action may have caused or contributed to an accident by examining various aspects related to human knowledge, actions, and abilities and examines factors that affect the survival of persons involved in accidents and various aspects of safety procedures and vehicle performance. Both Human Performance investigators and Survival Factors investigators serve as group chair in major aviation investigations and conduct an objective and thorough technical investigation of the accident in order to prepare reports used to develop the final report and safety recommendations.
The Writing and Editing Division develops and writes major aviation and commercial space investigative reports and other aviation investigation reports. The division also analyzes, writes, and edits accident briefs, safety alerts, and responses to notices of proposed rulemaking and petitions for reconsideration.
Administrative Support Division responsible for supporting all administrative functions of the office including budget, travel, payroll, timekeeping, procurement, contracting, etc.