Ambassador Carter now is the time for ICAO to decriminalize Aircraft Accident investigations

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Judge Drops Manslaughter Case Against Air France and Airbus Over Deadly Crash That Killed 228 People

Paris court hands ex-Thai airline CEO 4-year term over 2007 crash

French Court- dismissed (French defendant) and convicted (foreign defendant)

Criminal to determine FAULT || Accident Investigation to find safety answer

Only ICAO can set global standard 



criminal manslaughter case against flag-carrier Air France and European aerospace giant Airbus for a deadly 2009 crash that killed all 228 passengers and crew. 

the crash was caused by the pitot tubes (which measure airspeed) icing over inflight

problems with the pitot tubes had been well documented and were first known about as far back as 2004. 

questions asked of Air France which did not train its pilots how to deal with a high-altitude stall

Pierre Duval, a former president of regulation and safety at the Aeroclub de Paris… that the judges seem now to have concluded that the training was “appropriate” and that the pilots should have “understood what was going on”.



four years in jail for guilty of voluntary manslaughter and also set a fine of 75,000 euros ($82,300).

-skidded off the runway and burst into flames while trying to land in driving rain and heavy winds.

– overworked pilots and falsified flight logs.

[all allegations; each specific allegation may or may not been proved.]

While the apparent disparate treatment of the French nationals and foreign defendants is problematic, criminalization of accident investigations is the real issue here and for many other similar cases:

ATC Reps Warn of Safety Fallout from Swiss Court Ruling

French Court Overturns Convictions in Concorde Crash

Brazil upholds U.S. pilots’ convictions in 2006 air disaster

Indonesian pilot charged with causing crash







Ambassador Carter, as the US Representative to ICAO and as a civilian and military pilot, would be a perfect advocate for an ICAO Resolution to decriminalize accident investigations. The UN body is uniquely poised to establish as a universal aviation requirement. The record for taking such action is replete with excellent arguments.

Here is some material for the Ambassador use in support such a position:

Criminalizing Aviation: Placing Blame Before Safety

The Investigative Process – NTSB Home

Aviation Safety Groups Issue Joint Resolution Condemning Criminalization of Accident Investigations



Criminal Liability & Aircraft Accident Investigation

Criminal Liability and Aviation Safety

Air traffic controller convictions draw criticism

Special Insight Into The Intersection Of Accident And Criminal Investigations

ICAO Ambassador Woerth – Look At The Trend In CRIMINALIZATION Of Aviation Safety Investigations!

The last post was a request that Ambassador Woerth, the prior US person in the Montreal post. Both men are pilots, whose experience should be a powerful tool in the debates at ICAO

The most authoritative statement, on the need to remove criminal consequences from the quest to learn what happened and how aviation can assure that the error(s) will not be repeated, comes from Dr. Hassan Shahidi, President and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation.










His paper, Criminalizing Accidents and Incidents Threatens Aviation Safety, is the most definitive and authoritative paper on this subject. Dr. Shahidi also included a draft Joint Resolution for the Council’s consideration.


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2 Comments on "Ambassador Carter now is the time for ICAO to decriminalize Aircraft Accident investigations"

  1. At least in the past ICAO would be more than happy to develop such a standard. Too many States just can’t agree…including the US. Tried to get out such a paper twenty years ago and it went down in flames. Love to see another try!!!!

  2. I will first say that I have no current or previous association with anything or anyone remotely related to the aviation industry. Nor do I have an obsession, serious interest, or consider myself an amateur enthusiast of the industry. That being said, I also don’t have anything against it and can appreciate the excellent safety record the aviation industry, as a whole, enjoys. I say this as simply an outsider who stumbled across this website and has enjoyed the dozen or so different articles that I have read….I understand that mistakes are inevitable but what I don’t understand is why some among the industry feel that the people responsible (directly or indirectly) for aviation accidents, excepting those that are intentional, due to negligence, recklessness, etc., should more or less be immune to prosecution. I admit that anytime a tragedy occurs that city, state, and federal government are relentless in their efforts to identify and punish someone in order to satisfy the public, who want blood. That is, unless the parties responsible are government officials; then they are willing to overlook such things. I’m very open to reasoning and thought of others but I fail to see why some think the aviation industry deserves special treatment when it comes to accidents. If I were to mow down a bicyclist because of improperly tightened lug nuts when putting on a spare tire, or if I plowed over and killed 3 little old ladies outside of the bingo hall because I accidentally slammed on the accelerator instead of the brake when parking my car, at the very least their is going to be a criminal investigation and possibly an indictment for my simple, but tragic, mistake. I can’t see any justification in treating the people surrounding events that could potentially or did result in the loss of human life, differently, depending on what sector of transportation is involved. It just makes no sense to me. But like I said, I’m an outsider and by no means an expert in this field. As such, maybe there are things that I haven’t considered because I am not an expert in this field and may be unaware of possible mitigating factors inherent to aviation accidents, opinions, research, etc. Until such a time that I have learned of sound and sensible reasoning for this quest to “decriminalize accident investigations,” it seems quite preposterous. Thanks.

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