Aviation Accident


General Aviation Accident Investigations

Passenger Airline Accident Investigations

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​General Aviat​ion Accident Investigations

​​General aviation accident investigations typically refer to civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services or non-scheduled air transport operations.

Please review our Information for Survivors, Families, and Friends Brochure​ that describes what to expect throughout an NTSB general aviation accident investigation and additional details related to the information provided below. ​

Assistance for General Aviation Accident Investigations

​Although there is no requirement for TDA to respond to general aviation accidents, our specialists work with the NTSB’s investigator-in-charge (IIC) who is responsible for leading the safety investigation, and local and state agencies to coordinate assistance and information for survivors, family, and friends, either by telephone or on-scene if deployed to the accident location. TDA remains a primary point of contact to survivors, family, and friends throughout the NTSB investigation and we provide updates on the release of information associated with it. 

Short-term Counseling & Referrals

​Short-term emotional support services and referrals are available at the request of survivors, families, or friends at no cost through our partnership with the American Red Cross. Additional information can be provided about these support services upon request.

Victim Identification Process

​Victim recovery, identification, determination of cause and manner of death, and death certification are the responsibility of the medical examiner or coroner in the jurisdiction where the death occurred. TDA can provide contact information for the appropriate local authority upon request.

Personal Effects

​The NTSB may take custody of personal effects like personal electronic ​devices or other items relevant to the investigation. Depending on condition, these items may be returned to the owner or a designated​​ family member typically at the conclusion of the investigation. Personal effects not collected by the NTSB may be collected by the medical examiner or coroner, law enforcement or another agency involved in the response. TDA can assist with questions about personal effects retained by the NTSB or provide contact information for other agencies that may have personal effects in their custody if known.

Accident Wreckage

​​The NTSB has the authority to retain control of and manage access to the accident wreckage during the investigation. TDA can assist with questions regarding status of wreckage retained by the NTSB.

Media Interactions

TDA does not coordinate interviews with media for survivors, family members, or friends; however, media representatives may attempt to make contact after an accident occurs. The NTSB will not release the identities of victims or survivors of accidents, but this information may be released by the transportation operator involved or local authorities where the accident occurred.

General Aviation Accident Investigation Process

​Due to the possible complexity of general aviation accidents and the extensive nature of the investigation process, a general aviation accident investigation often requires 12 to 24 months to complete. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the IIC along with other NTSB investigators or party members may travel to the accident site to collect information. The NTSB has the authority to designate organizations, corporations, or agencies as parties to the investigation. Only representatives who can provide technical or specialized expertise are permitted to serve as a party member and report directly to the NTSB. The NTSB will not determine the cause of an accident while on scene .

​The following are reports and products that NTSB can issue during the investigation:

  • The preliminary report provides a synopsis of factual information collected during the on-scene phase of the investigation. This report is typically available within two weeks after the accident​.
  • The final report conso​lidates relevant factual information and provides the analysis of that information the findings, and the probable cause of the accident. ​​This report replaces the preliminary report and is released at the end of the investigation in ​approximately 18 to 24 months following the accident. ​

You can access NTSB reports by searching the NTSB’s Case Analysis and Reporting Online Search (CAROL)

​​An accident docket contains relevant factual information collected during an accident investigation that is used in the development of reports, summaries, and if issued, safety recommendations. The docket is available to access at an appropriate time during the investigation, or at its conclusion.

​Many investigations result in safety recommendations or safety alerts. The NTSB can issue these at any time during the investigation process.

Staying Informed

​If you are requesting information related to a general aviation investigation, please complete an Investigation Update Request Form or contact us at [email protected] for additional assistance.​​​

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Passenger Airline Accident Investigations

TDA may coordinate family assistance operations for major passenger airline accidents that involve airlines with scheduled air services and non-scheduled air transport o​perations. TDA may establish family assistance operations near the accident location when the NTSB activates the Federal Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 or Foreign Air Carrier Family Support Act of 1997.

If you are a survivor or the family of those potentially involved in a passenger airline accident, please contact the airline immediately to ensure access to available services. You can also contact us at [email protected]  for further assistance or call 202-314-6185.

Please review our Information for Survivors, Families, and Friends ​Brochure ​that describes what to expect during an NTSB passenger airline investigation and additional details related to assistance available when the Federal Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 or Foreign Air Carrier Family Support Act of 1997 are activated.

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