History and Mission

The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent Federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in the other modes of transportation -- railroad, highway, marine and pipeline -- and issuing safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. The rules of the Board are located in Chapter VIII, Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

The NTSB is responsible for maintaining the government's data base on civil aviation accidents and also conducts special studies of transportation safety issues of national significance. The NTSB provides investigators to serve as U.S. Accredited Representatives as specified in international treaties for aviation accidents overseas involving U.S.-registered aircraft, or involving aircraft or major components of U.S. manufacture.

The NTSB also serves as the "court of appeals" for any airman, mechanic or mariner whenever certificate action is taken by the Federal Aviation Administration or the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, or when civil penalties are assessed by the FAA. For more information about this NTSB function, see the pages regarding the Administrative Law Judges and General Counsel.

The NTSB opened its doors on April 1, 1967. Although independent, it relied on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for funding and administrative support. In 1975, under the Independent Safety Board Act, all organizational ties to DOT were severed. The NTSB is not part of DOT, or affiliated with any of its modal agencies.

Since its inception in 1967, the NTSB has investigated more than 100,000 aviation accidents and thousands of surface transportation accidents. In so doing, it has become the world's premier accident investigation agency. On call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, NTSB investigators fly to every corner of the world to investigate significant accidents.

The NTSB has issued almost 10,000 recommendations in all transportation modes to more than 1,250 recipients. Since 1990, the NTSB has highlighted some issues on a Most Wanted list of safety improvements. Although it has no regulatory or enforcement powers, its reputation for impartiality and thoroughness has enabled the NTSB to achieve such success in shaping transportation safety improvements that more than 80 percent of its recommendations have been adopted by those in a position to effect change.

Many safety features currently incorporated into airplanes, automobiles, trains, pipelines and marine vessels had their genesis in NTSB recommendations. At an annual cost of less than 15 cents a citizen, the NTSB is one of the best buys in the government.