This 6 UoC course is intended to provide you with a general understanding of the processes of aircraft incident and accident investigation, in order that you might better understand the role of air safety investigation in the wider aviation context. The investigation of aircraft incidents and accidents is now recognized as an essential component of an effective safety management system. By its very nature, an aircraft accident represents some form of failure of the aviation safety system. In many cases, valuable insights into the safety health of an organization can be gained by the effective use of proven incident / accident investigation techniques. Such investigations are necessarily ‘reactive’ but do provide a valuable ‘snapshot’ of how flight operations, maintenance practices and general company management was actually being conducted at the time of the event. When combined with a ‘proactive’ incident reporting and investigation program (now components of a Safety Management System) the often hidden factors that adversely influence the actions of operational personnel can be revealed.
The investigation techniques examined in this course are directed solely to the objective of accident prevention. The apportioning of blame or the determination of liability is not part of this process. In many cases, aircraft accident investigations are commenced in chaotic, stressful, and sometimes physically challenging situations. Such circumstances can place significant demands on investigators. It is at those very times that a thorough understanding of the process of investigation is essential to ensure that all elements are properly addressed during that initial phase. Once the dust has settled the investigation enters a more ordered phase, where the likely course of the investigation becomes clearer, leading in time to the identification of significant factors and deficiencies, ultimately resulting in safety actions or recommendations designed to prevent a recurrence of the same type of event.
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