When aviation accidents occur, the National Transportation Safety Board conducts an investigation to determine the conditions, circumstances, and ultimately the probable cause of the accident. There is a federal statutory privilege which renders these reports, as well as testimony from the attending investigator, inadmissible as evidence in any suit or action arising from the accident. However, certain judicially created exceptions have arisen which permit portions of the report and certain investigator testimony to be admitted into evidence. The authors delineate and analyze these exceptions as they discuss the trend toward increased report and testimony admissibility. The authors conclude with a recommended statutory revision which would set out a predictable and consistent scheme for determining admissibility of National Transportation Safety Board aviation accident reports and testimony from the investigators who prepared them.
Walter A. T. Welch Jr. and John E. Faulk
The Use of Aviation Accident Reports by Civil Litigants: The Historical Development of 49 U.S.C. Section 1441(e),
9 Pepp. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/plr/vol9/iss3/3