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Civil Aviation Accident and Incident Investigations

No matter what transport mode, accidents always reduce confidence in the safety of the transport system. Accidents can lead to death or injury and can cause environmental and economic damage. This is why independent investigations of accidents and incidents are important as they help to improve transport safety. Analysis of the circumstances of accidents leads to recommendations being made to prevent these dramatic events from re-occurring in the future.

Recognising the importance of accident investigation in civil aviation, the European Union adopted already in 1980 a Directive 80/1266/EEC on cooperation and mutual assistance between the Member States in the field of air accident investigation. This was the first ever piece of aviation safety legislation adopted in the Community. The Directive of 1980 was subsequently replaced by Directive 94/56/EC . By transposing into the Community legislation a number of fundamental principles contained in Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention, Directive 94/56/EC significantly contributed to the harmonisation of civil aviation accident investigation in the EU.

In 2010 the European Commission conducted a comprehensive review of EU legislation on civil aviation accident and incident investigations, with a view to updating and modernising it. Today investigation of air accidents requires considerably more diversified expertise and resources than a decade ago. The EU institutional and legal framework also changed substantially, notably with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) being responsible for certification of aircraft in the EU. This review resulted in the adoption of Regulation (EU) No 996/2010 , which currently provides the legal framework for the conduct of civil aviation accident and incident investigations in the EU.