New AAIB Video
The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has recently issued a short video on its role.
The AAIB exists to determine the circumstances and causes of civil air accident with a view to the preservation of life and the avoidance of accidents in the future. The AAIB does not apportion blame or liability.
The Chief Inspector of Air Accidents, Keith Conradi was a pilot with both the Royal Air Force and a UK airline before joining the AAIB in 2002. In the video he emphasises, as is fairly traditional in AAIB publications, that AAIB is independent of the regulators, such as the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Additionally it is emphasised that AAIB is independent from the Police. This emphasis is topical as in recent months there has been a court decision in England that AAIB reports can be admissible in evidence in court cases and an application in Scotland by the Crown Office for access to the Cockpit Voice Recorder from a recent helicopter accident. Details of the associated UK regulations can be found here.
As well as participating on overseas investigations (for example when a British designed or registered aircraft is involved) the AAIB is also responsible for accident investigation in the UK’s overseas territories and the Crown Dependencies.
The AAIB is administratively part of the Department for Transport (DfT), based alongside Farnborough Aerodrome in Hampshire. Their site is now shared with both the UK Military Air Accident Investigation Branch (MilAAIB) and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).
While the video focus on the present it is worth reflecting briefly on the Branch’s history.
The AAIB has its origins in the Accidents Investigation Branch (AIB) of the Royal Flying Corps, established in 1915. However, the AIB’s first Inspect of Accidents, Capt G B Cockburn had been an active member of the Royal Aero Club’s Public Safety and Accidents Investigation Committee formed 27 February 1912. It was this group which is believed to have conducted the worlds first air accident investigation. This followed an accident on 13 May 1912 a Flanders monoplane crashed and was engulfed by fire at Brooklands, Surrey. In an early example of safety promotion the brief report was included the magazine, then simply known as Flight. The first civil Accidents Investigation Branch of the Air Ministry was formed in 1919.
Peter Coombs an Inspector of Air Accidents since 1972, gave a presentation to the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Historical Specialist Group on 11 April 2013. Audio of that lecture is available in an RAeS podcast.
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