Normal operations resumed Monday at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) after a 35-day partial shutdown that saw 367 of the agency’s 397 employees furloughed.
The NTSB said that during the partial government shutdown, there were 22 accidents — including 15 aviation accidents that resulted in 21 fatalities — to which the agency did not dispatch investigators; all 22 accidents now require investigative action. The delay means that “perishable evidence may have been lost, which potentially could prevent determination of probable cause for those accidents,” the NTSB said.
During the shutdown, the NTSB halted work on 1,815 ongoing general aviation and limited aviation safety investigations and postponed the scheduled release of its 2019–2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements as well as a board meeting that was to have determined the probable cause of a March 2017 runway excursion in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Release of the Most Wanted List is now scheduled for Feb. 4. No new date has been announced for the runway excursion meeting.
Other meetings and investigative work involving aviation accidents and accidents in other forms of transportation also were interrupted, the NTSB said.
In addition to the 367 furloughed employees, 26 others were exempt from furloughs, and four investigators were recalled to work without pay in support of investigations of three international aviation accidents, the NTSB said.