Families of those involved in five different general aviation crashes and their lawyer are suing the NTSB, charging it with obstruction of justice. The suit claims that the NTSB withheld from the families information concerning each of the crashes in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
I’ve commented before about how the NTSB’s “party system” creates a conflict of interest that skews the results of its investigations in favor of the manufacturers. But this lawsuit goes further than that. It alleges not just a conflict of interest, but collusion between the NTSB and the manufactures:
Upon information and belief, investigators and others employed by the NTSB collude with manufacturers and, upon their departure from government, most often accept employment defending the aircraft and component manufacturers whom they are previously tasked to investigate.
As a result of that collusion, the lawsuit alleges, the NTSB withholds and even destroys evidence for the express purpose of preventing the victims and their families from finding out what really caused the crash and holding those responsible accountable.
The NTSB, through its officers, employees and/or its agents, including party participants, acted and continues to act with the intent to avoid, evade, prevent and/or obstruct the timely investigation of airplane crashes.
Does the NTSB really destroy evidence? Every aviation lawyer knows that it does exactly that, at least to some extent. For example, an NTSB investigator may take many photos of an accident scene or wreckage. Yet, he will make part only certain of those photographs part of the “Public Docket.” The investigator may simply discard the rest before the NTSB releases its final report and opens the docket to public review. The lawsuit seems to suggest that at least some investigators discard material purposely and selectively so that evidence that would incriminate the manufactures or other “party participants” never sees the light of day.