The NTSB, through the FAA, investigates most plane crashes. Investigators publish a Preliminary Report, a Factual Report and a Probable Cause Report. These reports contain very helpful information, however, they are no substitute for an independent investigation. The NTSB/FAA investigation is conducted with the assistance of aircraft and component manufacturers. The family of the decedent or injured party (or their lawyer) is not permitted to participate. There are many occasions when an independent investigation reveals the true cause of the crash, like the failure of a part, while the NTSB might attribute the crash to pilot error. On this basis investigations have been reopened and probable cause determinations have been reversed. Use the NTSB report to obtain general information, but always consult an aviation attorney to obtain an independent investigation and learn who the real responsible party is.
How to Find It
Simply go to the NTSB Aviation Accident Database at http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/query.asp .
Search by inputting the date of the accident or incident or a variety of other information such as the tail number or make and model of the aircraft.
If you see that only the preliminary report has been published, keep checking as it can take a long time for the factual report to be completed.
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