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The Role of the National Transportation Safety Board in Aviation Safety Principles of Transportation Overview The movement of millions of passengers over distances thought impossible decades ago is symbolic of the modern air transportation era that is characterized by speed comfort and personal convenience The commerce of aviation both the operation of commercial aircraft for profit and the development of aeronautical systems is also an important symbol of national prestige and a powerful economic force Safety in air transportation is therefore a matter of significant national importance The National Transportation Safety Board NTSB plays a central role in the overall equation of aviation safety The agency enjoys the reputation of being the foremost independent safety investigative authority in the world The caliber of the agencys investigations and reports has become the international standard The NTSB is considered to be the best in the business and has served as a model for independent investigative authorities in many countries And although the NTSB investigates thousands of marine rail highway pipeline and general aviation accidents each year the public reputation and credibility of the Board substantially rests on its ability to determine the cause of major commercial aviation accidents Lebow et al 18 History The NTSB was formed through the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 and the Independent Safety Board Act of 1974 Code of Federal Regulations Part 800 These two pieces of legislation placed the responsibility of investigating and determining the probable causes of all civil aviation accidents with the NTSB 1996 Annual Report to Congress 28 The agency was later charged with the duties of investigating safety issues within the other modes of transportation marine rail highway and pipeline While the agency commands no significant enforcement powers - that is it is not a regulatory agency - it does exert enormous influence based on the accuracy of its investigations and the authority of its recommendations
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