Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 16, 2019

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are both US federal government agencies that have some responsibility for making safety recommendations dealing with aviation and aircraft inspection, as well as for regulating airplanes while in flight and investigating situations involving domestic aviation incidents. Both organizations also have some responsibilities concerning international flights. However, generally the FAA and NTSB’s interest in foreign aircrafts is exercised primarily in situations in which there was an accident, during which time the organizations will likely be working in conjunction with other groups and will probably not be directly responsible for the foreign aircraft specifically.

The Rules for Foreign Aircraft and Aircraft Inspection

Typically, prime responsibility for the airworthiness of a plane rests with the nation where the plane is registered. Thus, a foreign aircraft will itself usually fall under the jurisdiction of whatever country houses the airline’s corporation. However, some foreign carriers fly American-registered planes that are leased from companies based in the U.S.: those planes could fall under the jurisdiction of the FAA. Further, the FAA does have the authority to inspect foreign planes that land in U.S. airports, but such inspections are infrequent.

If an accident occurs, both the NTSB and FAA will be involved primarily in the process of investigation. If the accident took place in the United States, or involved United States citizens, they will have a legal interest in working together and with any other involved country in any investigation of what happened. 

Getting Help: The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration

Anyone in the United States who has been involved in an aviation accident should contact either the NTSB or the FAA for information. If, for example, you have a loved one who was flying on a plane and you want to find out the status or nature of an incident involving the flight, those organizations will probably be the first to have any information. They also have systems in place to provide that information to the public and those with connections to the possible victims. If you are unable to get the answers you need from these organizations, or if you are concerned about holding the foreign aircraft carrier liable for damages, you should also strongly consider contacting a lawyer.