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Aviation Accident Investigation Compared to Civil Litigation

This lesson discusses the statutory basis for aviation accident investigations. The discussion centers around case studies of two aviation accident investigations. A comparison is drawn between federal statutes and regulations enabling aviation accident investigations and civil actions of the same cases. The lesson contains a number of questions and exercises to help the student synthesize the content presented.

The lesson is an independent effort of the author and does not represent an official opinion of the National Transportation Safety Board.


Faculty can use this lesson to point out how administrative agencies function. The lesson also provides a background to legal details related to aviation and terminology thereof.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the lesson, the student will be able to:

  1. Explain why the federal government investigates aviation accidents rather than states.
  2. List the statutes that guide accident investigations.
  3. Discuss the objectives of accident investigations.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to differentiate between accident investigations and civil tort actions.
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