National Transportation Safety Board

What It Is: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency tasked with finding the probable cause of transportation accidents and making recommendations to prevent them. It has made business and general aviation, as well as commercial aviation, a focus of its efforts.

How It Grew: The NTSB has its roots in the Air Commerce Act of 1926, which charged the U.S. Department of Commerce with investigating aircraft accidents, a responsibility passed on to the Civil Aeronautics Board’s Bureau of Aviation Safety upon the board’s establishment in 1940. The NTSB was established in 1967 as an independent agency under the then-new Department of Transportation (DOT). In 1974 Congress removed the NTSB from DOT oversight, stating, "No federal agency can properly perform such [investigatory] functions unless it is totally separate and independent.”

Congress gave the NTSB the added responsibility of coordinating federal assistance to families of aviation accident victims in 1996.

The agency established the NTSB Academy at George Washington University in 2000 to increase staff members’ technical expertise and make its resources available to the transportation community at large. The institution was renamed the NTSB Training Center in 2006 to reflect its internal training mission.

In recent years, the agency has targeted lax charter operations, controlled flight into terrain, and Loss of Control—In-flight as key areas of safety focus in the business and general aviation communities. This November, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt stated, “Aviators in both the general aviation and Part 135 communities need to renew their emphasis on building and sustaining a safety culture.”

What It Offers: Following its investigations (more than 132,000 aviation accidents to date), the NTSB issues findings of probable cause and, where appropriate, safety recommendations (more than 13,000). Its annual Ten Most Wanted List targets needed transportation safety improvements. The NTSB also holds public forums.

Recent News: In September the agency hosted a safety roundtable in Anchorage, Alaska on Part 135 (charter) operations, one of the safety issues on its 2019–2020 Most Wanted list.


Founded: 1967

HQ: Washington, D.C.

Employees: About 400

Budget (2018): $110 million

Chairman: Robert Sumwalt

Website: ntsb.gov