The History of the National Transport Safety Board

The National Transport Safety Board in the United States of America was established on the 1st of April 1967, basically relying on the Department of Transportation, for its funding and the administration maintenance. In 1974, the Safety Board Act (in P.L.93-633) was passed by the Congress, which thereafter, separated the board from the department of transportation which allowed the safety agency to carryout the unbiased investigations and also to make recommendations about the safety regulation sine then the NTSB has received a momentous respect from the Congress for its hard work in discovering the needed transportation safety enhancement and maintaining the civic confidence in transportation safety.

On 1st October 2002 the funding authorization for the National Transport Safety Board expired but in the second session of the 107th Congress, bills that is the CRS-43H.R. 1527/S. 579 grants for authorization of the funds that are necessary for the expenses of the board. Senator John McCain introduced the reauthorization of the safety board which was therefore prepared and reported positively without adjustments by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

We see that on 13th March 2003. Representative Don Young established a bill for reauthorization of the board that was to be done on 1st April 2003. Also the House Committee covering Transport and Infrastructure reported a bill on May 1, 2003 the two bills, were to authorize the boards’ appropriations from the year 2003 to the year 2006 in which the same funding was to be provided. [1]

Since its launch, the board has been given the responsibility of carrying out investigations on aviation and surface transportation accidents. Due to its high number of investigation recorded, the board is ranked as the worlds leading accident investigation agency.

These transportation modes include the highway, marine, pipeline and railroad, therefore, it core objective is presenting safety recommendations that are meant to prevent future transportation accidents, and therefore it comes up with capable causes of the accidents. These investigations are carried out by the boards regional and field officers though they are not the basic sources of information to the board. The board has headquarter offices for all modes of transportation in which various information is requested from.

The headquarter offices are situated at 490 L’Enfant Plaza, SW Washington, DC 20594 and they can be contacted by telephone (202) 314-6000 while its conference center is located at 429 L’Enfant Plaza, SW Washington, DC  20594 the location of the offices vary, depending on the mode of transport that the board deals with .

The board is also dependable for maintaining the governments records on transportation issues, these records are normally accrued from special studies on transportation protection that are conducted by the board,  these studies basiaclly come up with factual and safety recommendations that are of a nationalized importance. Under this, the board provides investigators who always serve as qualified legislative body which is specified in the international agreements for aviation accidents overseas that usually involve the United States registered aircrafts.

The National Transport Safety Board does not carry out regulations over the transportation apparatus, operation and the transportation personnel. The boards’ success in the formation of the transportation safety comes as a result of, its character for fairness and care. The National Transport Safety Board has five Board Members, who are normally chosen by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve for a period of five years.

Therefore a member is nominated by the President as Chairman and another as Vice Chairman for a period of two years These Chairmanship requires a separate Senate verification. In a situation where the chairman is not designated, then the vice chairman acts in place of the chairman. [2]

Since the board has no power to regulate the transportation laws in the country it only causes change in the safety implementation of the transportation systems in the USA, therefore, it submits safety proposals to managers, workers, and the users of transportation systems. The safety measures include: improvement of child protection in automobile industry, reduction of fatigue of people from transportation operations, creation of event recorders that includes; video systems, commercial highway vehicle recorders, and an improved flight data recorder.

Averting runway incursions at airports; justifying the risks of structural icing on aircraft; and the elimination of the explosive fuel in fuel tanks from the aircrafts to prevent explosions. while on the rail roads, the board comes up with a suggestion of avoiding collision systems, it also improves the safety standards of trucks and buses on the roads, this may require the use of seat belts, it also implements the promotion of highway safety through licensing and also ensuring that the driving laws are adhered to by the members of the country, and in marine transportation, the board enhances the recreational boating safety; and the post-accident drug and alcohol testing.

Reports say that, these safety recommendations across all modes of transportation for over 35 years, through which about 82% of the recommendations has led to the implementation of acceptable safety improvements in the United States. The board normally works in collaboration with the department of transport agencies during the drafting of these measures so as to ensure that they are issued earlier and also in a satisfactory manner.

The national transport board is given the authority to sign contracts for facilities, technical services, and training in accident investigative theories and practices. Like in a case where the board was given a one year contract for a training site to the George Washington University, and in the year two 2003 it established the National Transport Safety Board(NTSB) Academy on London County Campus of the George Washington University in Ashburn, Virginia.

It is also allowed to engage in agreements and other dealings that are important in accomplishing its mission without undergoing the normal procedures of contracts, though the board has been criticized over its financial management it has been struggling to create a balance between the issuing of responsibilities to its investigators to complete their duties on time and efficiently and also providing a better financial management system that is effective in curtailing the fraudulent risks and wastages of resources. [3]

Despite the alleged financial mismanagement, the board had to establish a strategic plan that is meant to last for 4 years, the plan was established in the year 2006 and is expected to accomplished its objective in the year 2010, this plan is meant to guide the Agency’s work, by enabling the planning, budgeting and accounting for the work performed by the board.

This strategy is to cover various issues, including the accident investigation, support and the boards’ employee’s development and resource management. The current technological complex in the transportation system has made it hard for the agency to meet the challenge of accidents, thus making the agency to enter into a resource declination period whereby, planning is seen to be the most important factor in the utilization of the declining resources. For this reasons, the aircrafts, vehicles, trains, pipelines and marine vessels have safety features integrated in them.

Therefore the assignment of the National Transport Safety Board is to, recognize and converse the lessons learned from investigation of transportation accidents. this investigation is normally watchful, experienced and self-regulating in order to prevent the loss of possessions, individual injuries, loss of life and also the environmental harm. Apart from safety measures, the board also carries out the coordination of tragedy backing for, victims and families affected by the transportation accidents; it also arbitrates for the airman and mariner petition, this services are used to maintain the reputation that the transportation system of America  as the safest in the world. [4]

Therefore the national board of safety have set plans to have a careful use of the resources by maintaining a motivated, experienced, well trained, equipped and supported workforce which will enable it accomplish its mission this motivation is to be done through  intellectual selection of attempt and masterful implementation of objective; this goes hand in hand with the contribution of the private and public sector partners, who are always cooperative and supportive, the communication of these  recommendations for change in the directive and functions of the services of transportation is also considered.

The goals set by the transportation safety board in conjunction with its mission include: Accident investigation under this the board has been maintaining its reaction competence of the accidents and has also increased the examination of occurrence and other negative issues that predicted to be of consequences in the improvement of public transportation protection. The boards’ approaches to accident investigation involve the enhancing of the organizational capacities and investment of the resources to enable the board to recognize and analyze the incidents which will further identify the origin of the transportation accidents.

The second goal of the board is the support and Outreach this, objective is to enhance the presence of the national transport safety board in the transportation system whereby, leadership and technical support is used as a factor in giving support to the safety issues in transportation, thus promoting the safety recommendations of the board, this is normally done by, advancing the technical understanding and awareness of the safety issues which reflects the leadership role in the workforce performance.

The board also expands and performs procedures that always support the safety recommendations. The board also carries out the reviewing and analyzing the results of the recommendations, whereby the board chooses what measure is proved to be better. While playing its role of leadership the board usually solicit the support of external agencies which may be industries or the government, that assist in the bringing of the transportation issue to the awareness of the transportation society. [5]

The board also ensures that, its workforce maintains its knowledge by giving them a chance to play the leadership role with the board and other agencies locally and internationally. The board seeks to improve the productivity of the employees and their satisfaction through a vigilant recruitment, performance compensation, having an interest on their personal needs. It also maintains a working environment that facilitates the performance and the fulfillment of the boards’ workforce.

To deal with financial frauds, the board has come up with a resource management system, whereby it evaluates expenditures and fiscal commitments, so as to have an efficient asset management, to enable it have its mission accomplished, this course of management involves the budget implementation as a factor of performance for all stages of management.

The reviewing of all actions and costs is carried out whereby; the board members expect the board to finish its mission at a considerable time and with the use of limited resources therefore the national safety board is expected to carry out more investigations on accidents in shorter time and with fewer resources. The cost accounting tools and methods is normally provided by the agency to the program officers so that they can manage resources more effectively. The boards’ performance is usually evaluated by the office of the management and supplemented by the boards’ annual financial audit.

The national board of transportation safety provides a room for safety studies that is termed as an assessment of the effectiveness of rules, curriculum, program management and operational regulations and other government agency actions that are implemented to reduce the transportation losses; these studies result in the issuance of a narrative report on the information, conclusions and any valid recommendations on the safety of the travelers. They are normally scheduled irregularly about six weeks after a board meeting is carried out covering the same subject. The schedules for such meetings are usually presented under news and events on the boards’ website, and announced via a press release. [6]

Since the board is basically an investigative agency, it carries out a special investigation that is divided into two segments, whereby the first one is defined as an effort of gathering any information concerning the programmed focus selected in support of safety studies under this a report is usually issued, but a file is usually preserved, this file normally contains details, circumstances, and conclusions but will not include the possible cause of the accident.

While the second one is an examination of the mechanical issues and safety problems recognized in one or more accident investigations, under this a detailed narrative report is usually developed and approved by the Board, it contains the details, circumstances , conclusions and safety recommendations if necessary. All these records are always available from the boards’ records management division.


Coyle, J.J.; Bardi, E.J. and Novack, R.A. (2004): Transportation. 5th Edn: Southwestern College Publishing, Cincinnati

OFCM (1999): Public-Private Partnership Symposium: Panel on Successful Transportation Partnership; Presentation at the Volpe Center, Boston M A.

TRB (2001): Critical Issues in Transportation 2002. Reprinted from TRB News 217; November-December 2001: Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C

TRB (2000): Highway Capacity Manual 2000. D.C.: Transportation Research Board. Washington

[1] Coyle, J.J.; Bardi, E.J. and Novack, R.A. (2004): Transportation. 5th Edn: Southwestern College Publishing, Cincinnati
[2] TRB (2000): Highway Capacity Manual 2000. D.C.: Transportation Research Board. Washington
[3] Coyle, J.J.; Bardi, E.J. and Novack, R.A. (2004): Transportation. 5th Edn: Southwestern College Publishing, Cincinnati
[5] TRB (2001): Critical Issues in Transportation 2002. Reprinted from TRB News 217; November-December 2001: Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C
[6] TRB (2000): Highway Capacity Manual 2000. D.C.: Transportation Research Board. Washington


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