Seal for the National Commission on Miiitary Aviation Safety. NCMAS

National Commission on Military Aviation Safety

Frequently Asked Questions About the Commission

Click here for FAQs about the Final Report


Q:  Why was the Commission formed, and what is its purpose?

The National Commission on Military Aviation Safety was created as part of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced legislation to establish the Commission in the wake of a series of recent deadly military aircraft crashes. The purpose of the Commission is to examine and make recommendations with respect to United States military aviation mishaps.


Q:  What makes these individuals—the commissioners and the staff—qualified to be part of the Commission?

Congress listed several areas of expertise to be considered when making appointments to the Commission: military aviation training and operations, aviation technology and personnel policy, aircraft sustainment and repair, aerospace physiology, and reserve component policy.  The commissioners and staff are aviation experts and proven leaders from across industry, government, and the military.


Q:  How are mishaps classified, and which classes are covered by this study?

Class A, B, and C mishaps will be covered by this study.

Class A mishaps occur when there is more than $2 million in damage to the aircraft, the aircraft is destroyed, or its pilot or crew is killed or permanently, totally disabled.

Class B mishaps are recorded when aircraft damage ranges from $500,000 to $2 million, a crew member faces permanent partial disability, or three or more persons are sent to the hospital due to the mishap.

Class C mishaps, the least serious of the top three categories, occur when the damage is between $50,000 and $500,000, or an injury results in loss of time from work.


Q:  What is the major cause of military aviation mishaps?

Military aviation mishaps often occur due to a combination of causes, which may include inadequate training, equipment failure, operational tempo, and environmental conditions.  The Commission's focus will be to analyze the services' findings to detect trends, identify recurring issues, and make recommendations based on that analysis. 


Q:  Didn't the services already investigate these mishaps?

Yes. Those investigations were largely confined to a specific mishap or series of mishaps, without considering the larger context across all of the services. It is the Commission’s responsibility to review and analyze the findings from the individual mishaps, creating a comprehensive study that will incorporate information and analysis from all of the services.


Q:  Why do these mishaps need to be reviewed by a Commission?  Why can't the services do this themselves?

Each service has a safety program and is committed to improving aviation safety. The Commission has the advantage of having a broad charter to investigate across all of the services, identify best practices, detect trends in previous mishaps, and include lessons learned in proposed administrative and legislative recommendations.


Q:  Will you be re-investigating past mishaps?

No. The Commission will utilize the existing findings from each service branch. 


Q:  Where will you get the information needed to do the study?

The Department of Defense will provide the Commission with any information that is necessary to carry out its duties. This gives the Commission access not only to previous reports and findings, but also to senior defense officials and subject matter experts (SME).  The Commission has the cooperation and support of each service, their leadership, and their safety centers.  Site visits to service-specific safety centers, maintenance and training centers, and operational commands and bases will provide the Commission with on-site information and access to service members directly involved in aviation.


Q:  What will the Commission be reviewing?

The Commission will review organizational and supervisory influence, human factors, training, physiological effects, maintenance, operational tempo, and outside aviation environment.


Q:  Will there be public hearings? 

The Commission will host focus groups and town halls with people from a variety of backgrounds, including pilots, mechanics, logisticians, and financial officers. The Commission will be seeking input from those with specialized backgrounds, experiences, and skills applicable to military aviation safety.


Q:  Will recommendations/changes be implemented across all branches? If not across all branches, what's the point?

The Commission will submit to the president and to the congressional defense committees a report setting forth a detailed statement of findings and conclusions as a result of the study.  This report will be provided to the Department of Defense and all of the military services. The Commission will also submit recommendations for any proposed legislative and administrative actions, but it does not have the authority to enforce implementation of those recommendations.


Q:  When/what kind of updates will be available to the general public?

Periodic updates regarding the work of the Commission will be posted on this web site:


Q:  What additional information will be available on this web site?

This web site contains background information on the Commission, biographies of each of the eight commissioners, and the Commission’s contact information. The final report also will be pusblished on this web site.

We will post as much information as possible on the site, so many of your questions will be answered via FAQ. If your question is not addressed, you can leave a question for the Commission on the Public Affairs’ voicemail line at 703-692-0740 or via email at


Q:  How can I provide input to the commissioners? 

You will not be able to contact the commissioners directly, but you may submit comments to the Commission at 703-692-0740 or via email at All comments will be reviewed, and referred to the executive director or to a specific commissioner as warranted.