How is a Plane Crash Investigated?


Whenever there is a plane crash, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is called in to investigate. The NTSB investigates “all civil aviation accidents in the United States and major accidents in the other modes of transportation.”

In any investigation, the NTSB pulls together as much information as it can before determining probable cause of an accident.

The NTSB sends out a “Go Team” to all aviation accidents to begin the investigative process. Team members on “duty” are on call at all times. They must be ready to respond to a crash site as soon as possible.

Depending on the size and scope of a crash site, the Go Team has four to more than a dozen specialists on the team. While at the site, specialists focus on the aspects of the investigation that concern their expertise.

An onsite investigation can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Twelve to 18 months after an incident, all of the information and analysis is sent to the Safety Board, which issues safety recommendations and its final analysis of the cause of an accident.

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