This paper presents a top-down methodology for causal analysis of fatal aviation accidents. The methodology incorporates a three tiered hierarchical approach to analyze accident causes and factors. These include looking at the big picture or “profile” of accident categories, followed by a detailed analysis that “fingerprints” each profile. Finally, an in-depth analysis is performed for each fingerprint which produces a “DNA” sequence breakdown for each accident category. The paper includes analysis results of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accidents from 1990-1996. Key areas are identified which most significantly impact current accident rates. This includes a ranking by accident type as well as identifying focus areas for future research.