The NTSB will respond almost immediately to reports of a civil aviation accident by dispatching a “Go Team” from Washington, D.C. This team, which includes as many as a dozen of more NTSB investigators, is responsible for an on-site investigation typically lasting between four and 10 days, though it varies by accident.
The NTSB conducts its investigations using a “party system,” involving experts from other agencies and organization – including the airline – to provide expertise it may not possess. By legislation, the FAA has a right to be a party to the investigation. All other parties are selected by the NTSB. Parties generally include the airline, aircraft manufacturer, engine manufacturer, unions representing the airline’s employees, the airport authority, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and local crash/fire/rescue authorities.