Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Aircraft accidents: No prosecution before investigation is complete

David Learmount, who writes for Flight International, reports that a group of influential aviation organizations has come out against the practice of beginning criminal proceedings after aircraft accidents before the investigation process has run its course.

Learmount's article, posted on the website says:
The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the UK Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and the Academie Nationale de L'Air et de L'Espace (ANAE) contend that the growing worldwide practice of seeking criminal prosecutions immediately harms the process of investigation, and therefore safety itself, by causing all parties involved to act defensively.

Eurocontrol recently held a workshop at its headquarters in Brussels on related issues that it claims is a world first. "For the first time," says the agency, "justice, transport, legal and aviation experts have come together to discuss how to promote a 'just culture' - a reporting climate crucial to the promotion of public safety in which people are encouraged to provide essential safety-related information."

Eurocontrol has added its voice to the campaign, adding that "flight safety is being jeopardised through [failure to apply] a just culture in the reporting and analysis of safety occurrences. Eurocontrol has established from extensive research and interviews that legal structures and procedures can be contributing factors in delaying the application of a just culture. This workshop has allowed us to come together to explore the sometimes complex legal issues involved."
The article includes this quote from Flight Safety Foundation chief executive Bill Voss:
"We are increasingly alarmed that the focus of governments is to conduct lengthy, expensive and highly disruptive criminal investigations in an attempt to exact punishment, instead of the free flow of information to understand what has happened and why, and prevent recurrence."
There is an International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) treaty, ratified by ICAO's 189 member states, which mandates that operational investigations of aircraft accidents should be complete before courts attempt to establish criminal negligence. We hope that officials in Brazil who are dealing with last month's deadly midair collision keep this in mind.

Source: Push begins for just culture -

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