ITSA was founded on October 22, 1993 with the objectives of advocating independent non-judicial investigations of transport accidents in order to contribute to the safety of the traveling public, bringing together accident investigation agencies in all modes of transportation, and learning from the experiences of other countries and sharing safety information.
The concept of independent investigations into the causes of accidents and the issuing of recommendations to improve the safety of transportation was established in the United States in 1967 with the creation of the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB was the first independent investigation agency in the world to cover all modes of transportation; aviation, maritime, railways, roads and pipelines.
During an international conference in Amsterdam in 1987, the positive experiences from the NTSB in uniting investigation of all modes of transportation in a single agency convinced other countries of the usefulness and need to promote this philosophy of independent investigations. An independent safety investigation body for aviation accident investigation was established in Sweden in 1978 and in Norway in 1989. In 1990 independent safety investigation bodies were established in Canada and New Zealand. The Swedish body transformed into a multimodal agency that same year, covering not just transportation but all kinds of accidents and serious incidents. In 1991 the Interstate Aviation Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (representing 12 of the former states of the Soviet Union) was created, followed by the Netherlands (1993), Finland (1996), Chinese Taipei (1998), Australia (1999), the Republic of Korea (2006) and Japan (2008).
During the First World Congress on Safety of Transportation at Delft University of Technology in November 1992, the heads of the transportation safety authorities of the United States, Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands agreed to start working together on the establishment of an international association.
In October 1993, the same heads of agencies met again at the Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, to sign an agreement on the foundation of the International Transportation Safety Association (ITSA). A small organization was established, consisting of a rotating chairmanship, a small secretariat and contributions by in-kind staff and resources. On an incidental basis, observers were invited to the yearly meetings of the heads of agencies and topical presentations from outside were discussed.
New members joined in Stockholm in 1995; the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) of New Zealand and the Safety Investigation Authority (SIA) of Finland, followed in subsequent years by the United Kingdom, Chinese Taipei, Australia, Norway, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Over the years, the membership of ITSA has increased, and the environment in which ITSA members operate has evolved considerably with a number of other organizations now also existing for the exchange of information and experiences in this field.
In September 2017, the heads of the ITSA membership, meeting in Tokyo, Japan, decided to revise and adopt the ITSA Terms of Reference.
According to its mission statement ITSA’s purpose is:
“To bring together independent safety investigation authorities to share information and learn from the experiences of others.”
According to its Terms of Reference, the objectives of ITSA are as follows;
- Improve transportation safety in each member country by learning from the experience of other SIAs.
- Promote the practice of independent investigations into the causes and safety deficiencies of accidents.
- Exchange information on transportation safety on such matters as safety deficiencies, safety studies, safety recommendations and accident investigation techniques.
- Share information on the implementation of important safety recommendations.
- Identify common concerns, problems, methods and solutions, and share these in national and international forums.
- Provide opportunities for open and frank discussions of strategic issues and concerns amongst members in a safe environment.
- Build personal relationships between the leaders of safety investigation authorities and facilitate the bilateral sharing of views and challenges.
The heads of ITSA member agencies meet once year. ITSA members are further encouraged to bilaterally share information, discussion and collaboration outside of the formal ITSA annual meetings.
The NTSB (USA) is currently providing secretariat support services to ITSA, and SHK (Sweden) administers the organization’s website.