The Roles of Government Agencies in Airplane Accidents
Airplane accidents are relatively uncommon, but they can be devastating for any victims as well as the family and friends of the victims. However, multiple different government agencies may play a role in the investigation that occurs after an airplane accident or crash. An airplane accident lawyer can help you as a civilian citizen make sense of the bureaucratic red tape surrounding airplane accident investigations and understand how the different investigations’ outcomes can help you file a claim if needed.
National Transportation Security Board
The National Transportation Security Board, or the NTSB, is its own independent government agency charged with the task of investigating accidents that occur in United States waters and airspace as well as on United States highways and railroads. This means that when an airplane accident occurs, the NTSB will conduct a thorough investigation into the event itself and what could have caused it.
In addition to the NTSB’s job of investigating after airplane accidents, they are also responsible for issuing safety recommendations for future use as well as helping to support any victims of these airplane crashes or their families.
For the NTSB investigation of an aircraft accident, their scale depends on the nature of the accident. When a major incident occurs, the NTSB will most likely send a team of technical expert specialists to the site of the crash to investigate and take thorough notes to determine the probable cause of the accident. For more comprehensive investigations or ones conducted on a smaller scale, only one specialist will be sent out to the scene of the accident and will be trusted with coming to their conclusions about the probable cause of the accident in question.
The NTSB’s jurisdiction includes accidents that involve airplanes or airlines which are based in the United States, airplanes that had been scheduled to arrive in the United States, and airplanes that had departed from the United States before the accident took place.
The NTSB is responsible for the investigation of all these aircraft related accidents, which includes accidents that have happened with helicopters, and also accidents that have occurred with hot air balloons.
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, is, unlike the NTSB, a branch of the Department of Transportation. The FAA’s job is to oversee and provide regulations for all aspects of air travel relating to the United States.
This means it is in charge of all air traffic control of United States airspace, and it also monitors regulations for the construction, care, and maintenance of planes that have already been built. For a plane to be able to fly in United States airspace, it must meet FAA standards that render it safe to use.
The FAA is not obligated to take part in an investigation after an airplane accident, but they will often involve themselves in the FTSB investigations if they have reason to believe a violation of FAA regulations caused the crash. They may also join the FTSB in the research if they think there is valuable safety regulation information that could arise from the investigation, or if they believe that legal action on behalf of the government might be necessary.
When an airplane accident happens, the local law enforcement officials and firefighters from the locality where it occurred may become involved in the investigation simply because they are located close to where the accident occurred and can help mitigate the casualties and damages from the crash directly and efficiently.
If the accident happens at an airport, workers at the airport will also help minimize damages.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation commonly referred to as the FBI only makes a habit of involving themselves in airplane accidents if they believe that there was a risk to national security that caused the crash, or if they believe the accident was linked somehow to an act of domestic terrorism.