The United States National Transportation Safety Board investigates all civil accidents and certain aircraft-related incidents. The NTSB claims to conduct approximately 2,000 of these investigations per year.
During an investigation, the NTSB often turns its attention to any mechanics responsible for the aircraft in question. However, other circumstances can also trigger inquiries into the behavior of airline mechanics.
Complaints and reports
Anyone can submit a complaint or report to the NTSB if they suspect improper maintenance or repair work on an aircraft. Officials take these reports seriously. If credible information suggests a violation of safety regulations or standards by an aviation mechanic, the NTSB will launch an investigation.
Routine oversight and audits
The NTSB conducts routine oversight and audits of aviation maintenance facilities and personnel. If inspectors discover violations of safety regulations, subpar maintenance practices or suspicious actions by workers, they may investigate the mechanics involved.
Repeated safety violations
If aviation mechanics demonstrate a pattern of negligence in their work, this behavior could trigger an NTSB investigation. The NTSB takes the view that individuals who fail to follow best practices could cause a catastrophic accident.
When employers have concerns about the behavior of their mechanics, they may alert the NTSB. The NTSB will then investigate the allegations to determine if the mechanics have violated any safety procedures or acted negligently.
The stated goals of an NTSB investigation are to establish facts and prevent aircraft accidents. Because airline mechanics often come under scrutiny during the process, they must be prepared to justify their actions to officials.