- The government shutdown has effectively halted operations at the National Transportation Safety Board.
- The NTSB is tasked with investigating aviation and surface transportation accidents.
- According to NTSB documents obtained by Business Insider, 92% of the agency’s employees have been furloughed.
- As result, 87 accidents have yet to be investigated.
As the government shutdown pushes past the one-month mark, it’s taking a severe toll on the operations of the National Transportation Safety Board. As the independent organisation tasked with investigating aviation and surface transportation accidents, the NTSB looks into everything from crashed Boeing airliners in Indonesia to burning Teslas is Los Angeles.
Since the government shutdown commenced late last month, nearly all NTSB staff members have been on furlough, which means the agency’s operations have effectively ground to the halt.
In fact, when contacted an NTSB spokesman for comment, Business Insider received an automatic email response that stated:
“Thank you for your message. Due to the lapse in appropriations, I and the media relations staff have been furloughed. I am not checking or responding to email or voicemail during the shutdown. I will respond to your email after the shutdown has ended.”
According to NTSB documents obtained by Business Insider, 92% of the NTSB’s 397 staff members were put on furlough. A total of 26 employees – five board members and 21 staff – were exempt from the furlough and have been working without pay.
As a result, the NTSB has yet to launch investigations of 87 accidents that occurred shortly before and during the shutdown. These investigations include more than 20 fatal accidents, which resulted in more than 35 deaths.
Six investigators have been recalled for work. Four are working on the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 while two others are working on the failure of a Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engine on a Korean Air Airbus A220 airliner.
The US federal government entered into a partial shutdown on December 22 when Democratic lawmakers refused President Donald Trump’s demand that any spending bill include $US5.7 billion in funding for a wall along US-Mexico border.