In civil aviation, investigating aircraft accidents is the responsibility of the National Transportation Safety Board (in the United States) or a similar government agency in any country that is a signatory to the ICAO Conventions. Nonetheless, under ICAO Annex 13 and in the US CFR Part 830, every operator of a civil aircraft has certain responsibilities in the event of an accident or incident. These responsibilities include proper reporting, preservation of evidence, and support of the investigation team. In addition, agencies or organizations actively involved in the accident may be invited by the NTSB to participate in the investigation. This would include the operator, airframe and engine manufacturers, and other technical experts. To be qualified to join the investigation, invited participants must have the technical expertise to support the investigation as well as an understanding of the accident investigation process in order to provide accurate and timely support.
These are the regulatory reasons for understanding the aircraft accident investigation process and techniques. There is also another very important reason for understanding accident investigation. The NTSB and the FAA only become involved in those events (accident or incidents) that are reportable under Federal Regulations. But, many events occur that are not reportable which under slightly different circumstances could easily have been an accident and reportable. An effective aviation safety program must be able to identify, investigate, and correct the factors that create near accidents so that a real accident can be prevented.
It is for these two reasons that SCSI has designed and offers this Aircraft Accident Investigation (AAI) course. In this course you will become familiar with the regulatory requirements for investigating and reporting, not only those requirements applicable to the United States, but also those of ICAO Annex 13 upon which almost all modern individual reporting and investigating requirements are based regardless of nation. Once you understand the reporting requirements you will learn about how to comply with the operator's responsibilities to preserve evidence and support the investigation. You will learn how to set up an interim response team that will collect and preserve evidence. You will learn what evidence to preserve and how to preserve it. You will also learn about the hazards at an accident site and how to protect yourself.
You will learn the process of investigation from initial actions and set up to how to investigate each area of specialty, systems, structures, engines, and operations. You will be introduced to the areas of aircraft performance and structures that contribute to aircraft accidents and how they can be identified. You will also learn about specialized areas of investigation such as fire, midair collision, and in-flight explosion. You will learn how the use of recording devices and simulation have enhanced and improved the process of finding accident causes.
Human error is estimated to be a major cause in 85% of all aircraft accidents. You will learn Human Factors to help investigate possible human error. This portion of the course will examine the role of psychological and physiological effects as well as the role of the aero-medical investigator.
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Accident (forensic) photography is used to document evidence and to illustrate the investigator's conclusions. In this course you will receive instruction in the use of digital forensic photography and have hands on experience with digital photography systems using the SCSI crash lab (Slovenia and Long Beach on-site courses only). Although digital cameras will be provided, you may bring your own cameras.
Recent technology advances enable investigators to use the global positioning satellite (GPS) system during aircraft accident investigations. This course will include practical experience in using the GPS system.
This is a hands on course. You will learn by doing: by looking at accident evidence, determining causes, developing findings, and, finally, actually putting together an accident report. You will also review several actual accident reports from various countries. You will learn the strengths and weaknesses of each sample report and thereby be better able to produce a quality report when you participate as part of an investigation board.
The instructors in this course are all experts in their fields, and all have extensive investigation experience. They have taught this course or one similar to it for the former Bureau of Air Safety Investigators of Australia (now part of the ATSB, Australia), as well as to members of the civil aviation and/or investigation authorities of the Philippines, Canada, Singapore, Denmark, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Taiwan, and attendees from manufacturers, operators, pilot associations, and the defense forces from various countries. When you complete this course you will have the knowledge necessary to actively participate in an aircraft accident investigation and to conduct internal investigations of events for your organizations.
This course is for individuals who may become involved in future aircraft accident investigations in any capacity and need to understand basic investigation technology.
SCSI has assembled several exhibits from all over the world to allow our students a practical hands-on approach to investigation training. Our crash lab exercises are administered to emulate the real investigative process. Students are expected to apply the classroom theory and table-tab exercise lessons to the practical application in the field. The AAI courses in Redondo Beach and Slovenia include two full days of crash laboratory investigations beginning with small, general aviation aircraft and progressing in tasks to a complex military trainer.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation course consists of 10 training days (80) hours of classroom instruction including hands on lab work at the SCSI Crash Laboratory. Students receive a binder, note-pad and thumbdrive with course notes and additional reference material and a Certificate of Completion. Classes begin daily at 0800 and end at 1:00 PM on the final Friday. The on-site course coordinator is Denise Davalloo. Denise will be on-site daily (Redondo Beach) during the course to assist in administrative and logistical matters. SCSI has a limited number of digital cameras to provide for the course exercises but students are stongly encouraged to bring their own cameras.