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In the case of an aviation accident or incident, operators should consult Part 830 of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Regulations. It is important to become familiar with these regulations so that the proper reports and notifications can be made following an accident or incident.
In general, all accidents and a certain incidents must be reported immediately to the nearest NTSB office. Enforcement action can be taken against the operator if notification is not made in a timely manner.
In Part 830, the NTSB defines an accident as:
- an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and when all such passengers have disembarked,
- in which any person suffers death or serious injury,
- in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.
Substantial damage means damage or failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics of the aircraft. This type of damage would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component.
There are certain items that are not considered “substantial damage” by the NTSB. These include:
- Engine failure or damage limited to an engine if only one engine fails or is damaged
- Bent fairings or cowling
- Dented aircraft skin or small punctured holes in the skin or fabric
- Ground damage to rotor or propeller blades
- Damage to landing gear, wheels, tires, flaps, engine accessories, brakes, or wingtips
The NTSB defines an incident as an occurrence other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations. While many incidents do not need to be reported to the NTSB, there are serious incidents that must be reported.
Operators should review the full list of reportable incidents, but the following are a few common examples:
- Damage to property, other than the aircraft, estimated to exceed $25,000 for repair (including materials and labor) of fair market value in the event of total loss, whichever is less
- In-flight fire
- Flight control system malfunction or failure
- Complete loss of information, excluding flickering, from more than 50% of an aircraft’s electronic cockpit displays, such as EFIS (applies only to aircraft over 12,500 lbs)
- ACAS resolution advisory issued when an aircraft is being operated under an IFR flight plan and compliance with the advisory is necessary to avoid a collision, or if the aircraft is operating in Class A airspace (applies only to aircraft over 12,500 lbs)
Providing Notification to NTSB
When a reportable incident occurs, the pilot should immediately report it to NTSB Regional Office nearest to the incident. In many cases, the pilot will be directed to complete Form 6120.1, the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, which can be found on the NTSB web site. While the form can be completed online, it must be printed out and submitted to the NTSB via mail of fax.