Each NTSB investigation poses unique problems for the parties involved.  Like a key entering a lock, each move a company makes needs to be just the right fit.  Nevertheless, in our collective 100+ years of experience guiding companies through the investigation process, we have found the list below to encompass the master keys.  They are, quite simply, the “Do’s and Don’ts.”.


  1. Understand that how you handle the investigation will affect your relationships with your regulators, insurers, employees, and customers.
  2. Accept party status and fully participate in the investigation.
  3. Push to place personnel in each investigative working group formed by the NTSB.
  4. Secure representation for employees interviewed by the NTSB.
  5. Respond promptly to NTSB requests.
  6. Carefully review and correct NTSB draft field notes, draft factual reports, and interview summaries.
  7. Be aware of the agendas of other parties.
  8. Elevate concerns that are not properly addressed by investigators and Group Chairman to the Investigator-in-Charge, and then, if necessary, to the head of the modal office conducting the investigation, or the Office of General Counsel.
  9. Do a party submission.
  10. Meet with NTSB board members prior to the Sunshine Meeting.


  1. Conduct parallel investigations into the cause of the accident.
  2. Speculate publicly on the cause of the accident.
  3. Assign personnel to work with the NTSB without educating them on how they can protect the company while still complying with NTSB rules and regulations.
  4. Allow impromptu NTSB interviews of personnel outside of the formal NTSB investigative process.
  5. Tell the NTSB that they don’t know how to do their job.
  6. Sign field notes, wreckage releases, or anything else without careful review.
  7. Lose track of information and documents provided to the NTSB.
  8. Refuse NTSB requests without a solid legal basis.
  9. Try to “win” an NTSB investigation.
  10. Lose sight of the big picture.

In the aftermath of an accident, the NTSB is looking to you and your expertise to help them get it right.  If, through lack of experience, you unwittingly become an obstacle to the investigation, the result will be a ruined relationship with regulators and flawed findings.

A calm, measured, steady response ,with these points in mind, will see you through.

NOTE: For more information on NTSB investigations, see our blog post entitled “They Have It All Wrong” Dealing with the NTSB: Winning and Losing” and the accompanying webinar.