The NTSB has found that the Federal Aviation Administration mistakenly released investigative information, an error that violated NTSB regulations and party process in our investigation of a March 13, 2014, airplane accident in Philadelphia.
The accident, involving a US Airways passenger jet, is currently under investigation by the NTSB. Recently, the FAA, which is a party to the investigation, mistakenly released preliminary information about the accident under the Freedom of Information Act.
The NTSB depends upon full participation and technical assistance by the parties in our accident investigations – in this case, the FAA, the airline, and the pilots’ association -- in order to ensure that our investigations are objective, rigorous, and complete. Allowing any party to release investigative information without approval may enable that party to influence the public perception of the investigation, and undercut the fairness of the process.
Accordingly, we require that any release of information related to an ongoing accident investigation be coordinated and approved by the NTSB prior to its release. When the investigation is complete, these restrictions no longer apply. Because this investigation is not yet complete, the FAA was required, but failed, to notify and seek the necessary approval from the NTSB prior to releasing their draft report.
The NTSB has shared its strong concern about this matter with the FAA. As a result, the FAA is reviewing this case to see how the disclosure of information occurred and will review its policies and procedures to ensure that information from accident investigations is properly protected.