EU Must Do More to Prevent Air Accidents

Better Learn than Punish – Protect Safety Information!

Europe is seeking to strengthen aviation safety through the current proposal for a new Accident Investigation Regulation. But this unique opportunity risks being lost!

Accident investigations are key drivers for safety improvements, an opportunity to learn from accidents to prevent them from re-occurring. As safety professionals, pilots and air traffic controllers instinctively cooperate in such investigations and provide safety testimony. However, the Regulation does not offer sufficient tools for optimal safety investigations. Nor does it prevent this testimony being used in criminal proceedings. If this is not changed, safety information will stop flowing.

"We thoroughly support the stated aim of the proposed new Regulation of preventing future accidents 'without apportioning blame or liability'," says Capt. Martin Chalk, ECA President. "However, several provisions directly contradict this aim. We are seriously concerned that the current text increases the risk that pilots' and controllers' safety testimony could subsequently be used against them in a judicial proceeding. This violates each person's fundamental right against self-incrimination."

IFATCA President Marc Baumgartner stresses: "The Regulation must guarantee that safety investigations are separate and fully independent from judicial investigations. Only this can assist in the prevention of future accidents and guarantee not to jeopardise aviation safety."

"We encourage EU Ministers and the European Parliament to take the time necessary to produce legislation that fully protects safety information and helps us to learn from accidents to improve safety," adds Philip von Schöppenthau, ECA Secretary General. "We welcome the Spanish EU Presidency's determination to reach a deal quickly. But speed should not be the aim – safety is the aim."

See ECA/IFATCA Press Release (PDF), ECA/IFATCA Position Paper (PDF) & List of Amendments (PDF)