The TSB was convened for the first time under the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act, which was enacted on March 29th, 1990. It was formed partly in response to widespread criticism of the Canadian government's handling (through the responsible agency at the time, the Canadian Aviation Safety Board) of the investigation into the crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285. The headquarters are located in Gatineau, Quebec.
The provisions of Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act were written to establish a more independent relationship between the board and the government. This new mechanism's first major test came with the crash of Swissair 111, on September 2, 1998, the largest single aviation accident on Canadian territory since the Arrow Air disaster. The TSB delivered its report on the accident on March 27, 2003, some 4 1/2 years after the accident and at a cost of $57 million CAD, making it the most complex and costly accident investigation in Canadian history.
The TSB's board is composed of 5 members:
The Transportation Safety Board's mandate is as follows:
The TSB may assist other transportation safety boards in their investigations. This may happen when:
TSB statistics report that Air, Rail, and Marine accident rates have been fairly steady over the past five years (2001 - 2006). (Pipeline accidents are not common enough for statistics to be relevant.) Traffic on the three major modes of transport has risen about 5% in the meantime. In the fiscal year 2005-2006, there were over 4000 transportation "occurrences" reported in Canada. Most of these were minor incidents, involving only property damage, but major fatal accidents are also be included in this total. In the same year, 79 accidents and incidents required TSB investigation.
The federal or provincial governments may call upon the TSB to investigate such occurrences. Usually it is Transport Canada that initiates an investigation. Public reports are published following each investigation. Recommendations made by the TSB are not legally binding upon the Government of Canada, nor any Ministers of Departments, but the Minister who initiated the investigation must acknowledge the recommendations made by the TSB.