One of the most significant pieces of legislation enacted by the current Congress is the FAA Reauthorization At of 2024 (Pub. L. 118-63, enacted May 16, 2024). Although much has been written about the legislation’s provisions pertaining to the Federal Aviation Administration and aviation, in general (consisting of 517 pages overall in the enrolled bill version of the legislation – the U.S. Government Publishing Office has not published the official Public Law as of the date of this blog post), scant attention has been paid to title XII of the legislation – the  National Transportation Safety Board Amendments Act of 2024 (sections 1201-1223, comprising a total of 15 pages of the overall legislation.)

This post will highlight some of the key provisions of the NTSB reauthorization. [Readers interested in learning more about the key FAA reauthorization provisions are encouraged to review the Fox Rothchild webinar recording and related materials available at Aviation – The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024: What’s in It and What It Means (]  We also point out that a number of provisions included in the NTSB reauthorization originated with a proposed draft bill prepared by the NTSB and submitted to the Congress on March 20, 2023. See NTSB-Reauthorization-Proposal.pdf.

Key provisions:

Authorization Levels (section 1202): Provides total authorizations of $738 million for Fiscal Years 2024-2028. These authorized amounts, subject to annual appropriations, enable the NTSB to hire and train staff, invest in equipment and technology, and maintain the agency’s multimodal accident database management system — System for Analysis of Federal Transportation Investigations (SAFTI) – mandated by section 1108 of Pub, L, 115-254, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

Strategic Workforce Plan (section 1206): Directs the NTSB to develop strategic workforce plan to address “the immediate and long-term workforce needs of the [agency]” based on, among other things: significant workforce trends, issues, and challenges in the transportation industry; NTSB workforce competency gaps; and a workforce planning strategy that identifies workforce needs, including “the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to recruit and retain skilled employees”.  The NTSB is required to update its strategic workplace plan every five years.

Closed Unacceptable Recommendations (section 1209): Requires the NTSB, as part of its Annual Report to Congress, to identify each recommendation made to the Secretary of Transportation or the Commandant of the Coast Guard “that was closed in an unacceptable status in the preceding 12 months[,] including an explanation as to why the recommendation was closed in an unacceptable status/

Investigative Authorities (section 1210): Clarifies that the NTSB’s authority to investigate highway accidents is separate, but concurrent with, any State investigation and requires the NTSB and the relevant State agencies to ensure both have timely access to information needed to conduct investigations. The section also amends the NTSB’s rail investigative authority to allow the agency, in its discretion, to investigate a grade crossing or rail trespasser accident or incident not involving a fatality of substantial property damage; or an accident or incident involving a passenger train not involving fatalities or serious injuries to train passengers or train crewmembers. Note:  section 1210 does not include the NTSB’s proposed language that would have clarified its existing authority to conduct safety investigations of commercial space and reentry mishaps consistent with an NTSB-FAA memorandum of agreement signed on September 9, 2022. NTSB-FAA MOA.

Ensuring Accountability for Timeliness of Reports (section 1212): Requires the NTSB to submit to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure a report identifying each accident report not completed within 2 years from the date of the accident and the reasons why the report was not issued within the 2 years. The agency must also report its progress toward completing the accident report every 90 days until a final report is issued.

Ensuring Access to Data (section 1213): Authorizes the NTSB to require from a “transportation operator or equipment manufacturer or the vendors, suppliers, subsidiaries, or parent companies of such manufacturer, or operator of a product or service which is subject to an [NTSB] investigation” any recorder or recorded information pertinent to the accident; information necessary to enable the NTSB “to read and interpret any recording device or recorded information pertinent to the accident[,] and design specifications or data related to the operation and performance of the equipment.”

Improving Delivery of Family Assistance (section 1215): Amends current law, which requires the NTSB to conduct family assistance for any investigation it leads, including in sovereign territories. Section 1215(a)(1) clarifies that the NTSB will provide family assistance for investigations the NTSB leads in the United States, its territories, or over international waters. Section 1216 also amends current law to allow the NTSB to disclose information from passenger lists to local, state, or federal agencies responsible for determining the whereabouts or welfare of passengers.

Drug-Free Workplace (section 1218): Directs the NTSB to implement a drug testing program for its employees, including employees in safety or security-sensitive positions, consistent with Executive Order 12564 of September 15, 1986 (“Drug-free Federal Workplace”), no later than 12 months after the date of enactment of the NTSB Reauthorization Act.

We will continue to monitor the NTSB’s implementation of its new Reauthorization Act and report on significant developments.