During the 35-day-long partial U.S. government shutdown that ended late last week, the NTSB stopped work on more than 1,900 ongoing transportation accident investigations, the vast majority (1,815) of which involve general aviation. Agency employees returned to work this week to resume normal operations and develop plans to catch up on what didn’t get accomplished during the shutdown. At press time, agency officials could not provide the approximate timetable this effort would require.
Within the agency’s Office of Research and Engineering, work ceased on reviewing a number of airman certification cases, and the NTSB’s release of its 2019-2020 "Most Wanted List" of transportation safety improvements was postponed to February 4.
Of the 397 agency staff, 367 employees were furloughed, 26 employees were excepted, and four investigators were recalled and worked without pay to support investigations of three international aviation accidents. As of January 25, there were 22 accidents in which the NTSB did not dispatch investigators, including 15 aviation mishaps resulting in 21 fatalities.
The 22 accidents in which the NTSB did not launch investigators, but would have if not for the partial shutdown, “may not result in investigators physically visiting the accident sites, and, it is possible that perishable evidence may have been lost, which potentially could prevent determination of probable cause.”