Tesla Removed from Crash Investigation for Violating NTSB Rules

An Update on Last Week's Accident | Tesla

Tesla insists Model X driver was at fault in fatal crash

The safety board has in some cases thrown airlines, aircraft manufacturers and unions off of investigations in cases where they were either making unauthorised statements or not producing information the NTSB expected of them.

Tesla also argues that the NTSB is not telling the full story, claiming that the agency has released statements concerning the crash while telling the tech company not to do so.

"Participation in the party system is a privilege", the NTSB wrote, which allows the sharing of investigative information with all parties that agree to the terms of the party agreement.

However, a Tesla spokesperson said the company decided on its own to withdraw from the party agreement on Tuesday and released the statement "to correct misleading claims that had been made about Autopilot". Tesla said that although it won't be a formal party to the probe, it will continue to provide technical assistance to the NTSB. Tesla said Huang's hands were not detected on the wheel for the six seconds prior to the crash, and that he should have had about five seconds of unobstructed view of the concrete lane divider he slammed into, but the vehicle logs show no action was taken. The NTSB's investigation of the March 23 crash involving Huang contributed to a major selloff in the company's shares late last month.

"We made a decision to revoke Tesla's party status and informed Mr. Musk (Elon Musk, CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla) in a phone call last evening and via letter today", he added. A few months later, the NTSB issued its own report, saying Tesla bears some blame for Brown's death, because its auto didn't do enough to ensure he watched the road. In a statement this week to Silicon Valley television station ABC 7, for example, Tesla argued that the crash occurred because driver Walter Huang "was not paying attention to the road".

Tesla is targeting production of its Model Y SUV to begin in November 2019 at its Fremont, California, plant, according to a Reuters report citing two sources "with knowledge of the supply chain".

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Tesla remains a party to other ongoing investigations the NTSB is running, including a Model X crash in August 2017, and a Model S crash in January of this year. "We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash", Tesla said at the time. So it's easy to imagine the NTSB will come to a similar conclusion once it's done investigating Huang's death, painting Tesla's innovative system in a damning light.

Tesla pulled from fatal Autopilot crash investigation.

Tesla said it had "been clear in our conversations with the NTSB that they're more concerned with press headlines than actually promoting safety" and accused the agency of violating its own rules while trying to prevent Tesla from disclosing all the facts.

"It does happen, but it is rare considering how many investigations we do and how many party members we have", Knudson said. This reminder is made every single time Autopilot is engaged.

Tesla retains its party status in several other NTSB investigations involving Tesla vehicles, including the crash of a Tesla auto that was operating under Autopilot when it drove into a fire truck in California.

"Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving auto is likely to be several times that of a vehicle which is not", said Musk.

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