App Review: Notify NTSB for NTSB Part 830

NTSB Part 830 regulations cover reporting requirements for aircraft accidents and incidents. Every pilot has had to answer a few questions on a FAA written test about the various requirements and time frames. Studying these regulations can cause the same glassing over of the eyes as ADF relative bearings or calculating time to station by VOR bearing change.

In practice, everyone pretty much forgets about it until something happens.  Then the scramble begins. If you have ever had a minor incident such as scraping a wing on a hangar door or a hard landing that may have damaged something, one of the questions is “Do I have to report this and to who?”

It is very important to know exactly when to report and when not to. The rules can be confusing and the implications are serious. Many pilots are not certain of or are unfamiliar with the various requirements of Part 830. Even worse, is reporting something when you were not obligated to make the report. This can draw a lot of undue attention from the FAA.

Knowing when you are required to report and when you are not can save you a lot of unnecessary grief. You do not want to expose yourself to possible enforcement action arising from a report to the FAA that you did not have to make. Likewise, you do not want to be delinquent in making a required report.

Reading through the text of Part 830 is not much help either. It is written in typical “Govermenteese”.

Mike Lersbak is a pilot and CFI who developed an iPhone App to help pilots and other people working in aviation to determine whether an event is reportable.

I recently had the opportunity to demo Mike’s App called “Notify NTSB”. As with all things Apple, the app downloaded and installed easily.

The first page contains a step-by-step wizard. By answering a series of questions, the application walks the user through the various reporting criteria. If a report to the NTSB is required, the next set of screens gathers the required information: pilot’s name, registration, aircraft position, etc. A nice feature of the program is that it will export all the required information into an e-mail that you can send directly from an iPhone.

The program lacks real world explanations of the official definitions in Sec 830.2. Most of the text is simply copied directly from the regulation (along with some typos). For example, the NTSB definition of Serious Injury is very broad. I would like to see some specific examples or links to help the user decide if an injury “involves an internal organ”.

I think if I was involved in an aircraft accident or event, my first call would be to an attorney instead of relying on an iPhone App to decide if notification is required. That said, this App could very useful to gather and save data if a report is required. It can also be useful as a study aid for someone preparing for an FAA Knowledge Test. You could plug in different scenarios to help reinforce the reporting requirements.