The US National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) did not send investigators to the scenes of 15 aviation accidents involving 21 fatalities during the 35-day shutdown of US government agencies that ended Jan. 25.

Resuming normal operations on Jan. 28, the NTSB released a summary of the impacts of the shutdown, which prevented the agency from sending investigators to 22 total accidents, including three marine, two railroad and two highway mishaps.

“The 22 accidents in which the NTSB did not launch investigators, but would have if not for the partial shutdown, may not result in investigators physically visiting the accident sites, and, it is possible that perishable evidence may have been lost, which potentially could prevent determination of probable cause,” the agency said.

Of the 397 NTSB staffers, 367 were furloughed and 26 were “excepted,” or required to work during furlough without pay. Four investigators were recalled from furlough to support investigations of three international aviation accidents, also without pay.

The shutdown stopped work on 1,815 ongoing general aviation and limited aviation safety investigations and caused the NTSB to postpone its probable-cause hearing into the March 8, 2017 rejected takeoff and runway excursion of a chartered Boeing MD-83 at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan. One passenger was injured.

As a result of the shutdown, the NTSB also postponed release of its 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The list now will be released Feb. 4.

Bill Carey, bill.carey@aviationweek.com