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   Fortunately,  air accidents do not happen often.  However, when they  do,
   it is essential that their causes and circumstances should be established
   as  quickly  as  possible  to  avoid  their  recurrence  in  future.  Air
   accidents  should  therefore be made the subject  of  in-depth  technical
   investigations with accident prevention as their sole objective.

   In  order to improve air safety by facilitating  accident  investigation,
   the   Commission,  on  the  initiative  of  Abel  Matutes   (Commissioner
   responsible  for  transport),  has approved  a  draft  Council  Directive
   establishing  the  fundamental principles governing the investigation  of
   civil aviation accidents and incidents.

   The basic principles contained in this Directive are as follows:

   -   mandatory  investigation  of any serious civil aviation  accident  or
       incident,  with  the sole objective of preventing the  recurrence  of
       such events;

   -   the legal investigation (aiming to establish responsibility) and  the
       technical  investigation to be kept clearly separate, with  increased
       status for the latter;

   -   the  body  in  charge  of  the  investigation  to  be  permanent  and

   -   mandatory  publication  of a report on the  investigation  containing
       conclusions and safety recommendations;

   -   follow-up to these recommendations to be monitored;

   -   the  investigation to be protected from use for purposes  other  than
       accident prevention.

   This   proposal,  the  first  of  those  announced  in   the   Commission
   Communication  to  the Council on Community  initiatives  concerning  air
   transport incidents and accidents,1 should make it possible to acquire  a
   fuller  understanding  of  the  mechanisms that  lead  to  accidents  and
   incidents  and could therefore constitute the basis for  better  accident
   prevention measures in the context of a common policy on air safety.

                                     * * *

   1   Doc. Sec(91) 1419 final, 4.9.1991

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