The National Transportation Safety Board is a unique federal agency. It is not a federal executive branch agency. Rather, it is congressionally chartered with a single aviation mandate: to investigate every aviation accident in the Unites States, determine the probable cause of the accident, and make recommendations to help protect against future accidents. See 49 U.S.C. §§ 1131, 1132, 1135 (Lexis Nexis 2006 and Supp. 2011). Although the full extent of the operational and investigative methods of the NTSB are beyond the scope of this article, 49 U.S.C. § 1154(b) prohibits litigants from using the final probable cause report prepared by the Board in any manner. However, the NTSB has a team of investigators in different specialty areas who prepare factual reports that do not involve conclusions regarding the cause of the crash. Use of these reports depends on the particular judge’s rulings on the rules of evidence, particularly Rule 803(8).
The NTSB recently released aviation data and statistics for transportation fatalities in 2011, including aviation. According to the NTSB, there were 494 aviation fatalities in 2011. Those fatalities are broken down by area as follows: General Aviation (444); Air Taxi (41); Foreign/Unregistered (9); Airlines (0); and Commuter (0).
Olson Brooksby PC maintains an active aviation accident and aviation component part product liability defense practice. For further information, please contact our office.