Getting Information About Accidents

While fatal events and other major accidents involving U.S. carriers are always thoroughly investigated and the reports made available to the public. However, it is not the case with events causing injuries. If you flying on a U.S. registered airliner and are involved in an accident that involves an injury, information about that accident may not have to be reported to the federal government.

There are two specific regulations in the Code of Federal regulations that define what kinds of injuries have to be reported by the airline. The regulation 49 CFR 830.5 requires immediate notification of the NTSB if there is an aircraft accident. Another regulation, 49 CFR 830.2, Defines an aircraft 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 all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.

49 CFR 830.2 further states that a serious injury means any injury which:

  1. Requires hospitalization for more than 48 hours, commencing within 7 days from the date of the injury was received;
  2. Results in a fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose);
  3. Causes severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle, or tendon damage;
  4. Involves any internal organ; or
  5. Involves second- or third-degree burns, or any burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface.

Finding Information on an Accident
For a variety of reasons, it may be difficult or impossible to get information from the airlines about a serious injury event, but it may be quite easy to get the basic information from the NTSB. The operator is required by 49 CFR 830.5 to report accidents to the nearest NTSB field office. That office will then forward that report to NTSB for inclusion in the accident database. If you want to find out about a particular accident, you should visit the NTSB web site at to do one or more of the following:

  • Review the online NTSB accident and incident databases
  • Request publicly available information from the NTSB
  • Contact the Public Inquiries Branch at NTSB headquarters

  • Find the contact information your nearest NTSB field office

Getting Information About Accidents -- Revised 27 September 2014