Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Background and Fact Sheet

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is an independent agency, created by an Act of the Canadian Parliament. The TSB reports directly to Parliament and is completely separate from Transport Canada and other government departments.

The TSB mission is to advance transportation safety by:

  • conducting independent investigations, including public inquiries, into selected transportation occurrences to make findings as to their causes and their contributing factors;
  • identifying safety deficiencies;
  • making recommendations designed to eliminate or reduce safety deficiencies; and
  • reporting publicly on its investigations and findings.

It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or to determine civil or criminal liability.

A transportation occurrence is any accident or incident associated with the operation of a ship, pipeline, railway rolling stock, or aircraft. An occurrence is also any hazard that the TSB believes could cause an accident or incident if left unattended.

  • The TSB consists of up to five Board members, including a chairperson, and has approximately 230 employees.
  • Although TSB headquarters are located in Gatineau, Quebec, most investigation staff are located in various regional and field offices across Canada, in order to respond quickly to transportation occurrences anywhere in the country.
  • Approximately 3 500 transportation occurrences (accidents and incidents) are reported to the TSB each year in Canada.
  • The TSB investigates between two and three per cent of annual reported occurrences by considering whether an investigation is likely to lead to reduced risk to persons, property or the environment.
  • The number of investigators sent to an occurrence site ranges from one to more than 30, and investigations can last from one day to several years.
  • Investigations consist of three main phases: the field phase, post-field phase and report production phase.
  • During an investigation, the TSB works with all levels of government, including international governments and regulatory bodies, transportation companies, equipment manufacturers, survivors, witnesses, and operators.
  • The TSB keeps survivors and families informed at various stages of the investigation and may request to interview them to assist in the investigation.
  • The TSB makes available factual information about the circumstances of the occurrence throughout the investigation. Safety information is shared immediately with those who can make changes to improve safety and may take the form of recommendations, safety advisories, or safety information letters.
  • Draft investigation reports are reviewed by the Board and sent to designated reviewers, who are people whose performance, behaviour or products may be commented on in the report, as well as those who may contribute to the completeness and accuracy of the report. After input from designated reviewers is considered and any necessary amendments to the report are made, the Board approves the final report and it is prepared for release to the public.
  • The TSB is guided by various industry standards, as well as internal TSB policies to ensure that investigations are conducted in a systematic, thorough, independent and unbiased manner.
  • The TSB is the lead agency responsible for investigating the Swissair Flight 111 accident according to International Civil Aviation Organization regulations (Annex 13), that assign primary investigative responsibility for aircraft accidents to the country in which the accident took place.