Brussels, 29 October 2009
Flying safer: Commission proposes new rules for better investigation of civil aviation accidents
The European Commission today adopted a proposal for a Regulation on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation. More efficient and independent inquiries into the causes of air accidents are essential to enhance the safety of air traffic. The Commission also aims to strengthen the rights of the victims of air accidents.
Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Transport Commissioner said: "One of the main priorities of European air transport policy is to increase air passenger safety. I believe that the new rules we propose today will improve the quality of accident investigations and the implementation of safety recommendations. Accident investigations help us gain valuable information that can prevent the reoccurrence of such mishaps, which, regretfully, sometimes have tragic consequences. Lives can therefore be saved through improved investigation. These new rules will also better protect the rights of the victims of air accidents".
Aviation is one of the safest modes of transport in the European Union. Accidents happen however despite all efforts of the regulators and the aviation industry. Independent investigations of accidents are thus essential for improving the safety of air transport.
The current rules in Europe on investigating civil aviation accidents no longer reflect the realities of the internal aviation market and the complexity of the global aviation industry. Accident investigation requires much more diversified expertise and resources than a decade ago. The EU institutional and legal framework has also changed, notably with the creation of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) which is responsible for certifying aircraft in the EU.
The proposed regulation aims to create a modern regulatory framework for air accident investigation. The centrepiece of this proposal is the establishment of a European Network of Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authorities. It will coordinate and strengthen cooperation between the Member States, the Commission and EASA, and implement a number of central functions, such as coordinating training activities or sharing investigation resources available in the EU.
The measures proposed will clarify the role of all parties involved, better protect important safety information, as well as guarantee the independence of investigations. Furthermore, the proposal aims at strengthening the implementation of safety recommendations. It will require that every recommendation resulting from an investigation is assessed and acted upon if justified. The establishment of a European database of safety recommendations is also proposed.
The Regulation will also strengthen the rights of victims of air accidents through common rules requiring the provision of rapid and organised assistance in the case of an accident. Victims and their families will be guaranteed the right to reliable information about the progress of an ongoing investigation.
More information on the European aviation safety policy at: