Allied Pilots Ass Voice Support For EU Accident Investigation Regulation


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Allied Pilots Ass Voice Support For EU Accident Investigation Regulation

By Daniel Baxter

September 27, 2010 - The Allied Pilots Association (APA), certified collective bargaining agent for the 11,000 pilots of American Airlines, lauded the European Commission's approval of a new regulation on the investigation and prevention of accidents.

Among other stipulations, the EC regulation affirms that the sole objective of accident investigation is to prevent future accidents without attributing blame or liability. 

In March 2010, the European Parliament Transport Committee had adopted a position that would inevitably force pilots and other safety professionals to stop cooperating in safety investigations, to protect themselves from judicial prosecution. 


?We commend the European Commission for ensuring that the focus of the accident investigation process is placed where it should be?on identifying causal factors to help prevent a recurrence," said APA President Captain David Bates. "Accident investigations should not be about assigning blame or determining liability." 

A number of recent accident investigations in various countries have resulted in criminal charges against pilots, air traffic controllers and other workers. This trend has been strongly opposed by pilot unions and other subject-matter experts routinely involved in the accident-investigation process. 

"Criminalization is bound to have a chilling effect on accident investigators' ability to do their jobs properly," Bates said. "The threat of criminal prosecution is not conducive to effective accident investigation, which depends on the full and willing disclosure of relevant information by all interested parties. The European Commission regulation on aviation accident investigation represents an important precedent for regulators around the world." 

IFATCA President Alexis Brathwaite stressed "this balanced and unanimous vote is very good news for Europe's travelling public. The EP agrees that the sole objective of any accident investigation should be to understand what happened and why, in order to improve aviation safety, without apportioning blame or liability."


Accident investigations are key drivers for safety improvements, an opportunity to learn from accidents to prevent them from re-occurring. Safety professionals, pilots and air traffic controllers cooperate in such investigations and provide safety testimony. However, the prior proposed Regulation did not protect this testimony from being used in criminal proceedings. This would have prevented the free flow of information. 

"The European Parliament Transport Committee has delivered a strong and unambiguous message, safety and judicial investigations must be strictly independent from each other and sensitive safety information must be fully protected if we want to continue preventing future accidents" said Capt. Martin Chalk, ECA President. 

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association, the largest independent pilot union in the U.S.?is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 11,000 pilots of American Airlines, including 1,988 pilots on furlough. The furloughs began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Also, several hundred American Airlines pilots are on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces.


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