ICAO Ambassador Woerth – look at the trend in CRIMINALIZATION of aviation safety investigations!

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ARTICLE: Accident Prosecutions on the Rise

Flight Safety Foundation’s Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar, always a source of great information, was the event where Dave Adams, a partner at Chicago’s Prangle & Schoonveld revealed some important facts. Between 1955 and 1999 there have been 27 criminal cases in which an aviation accident was the factual context of a trial. The number of merit is that since 2000, 28 criminal cases with the same subject matter have occurred. Mr. Adams’ analysis also pointed out that the cases were primarily Europe, Asia and Africa. The lawyer appropriately pointed to ICAO Annex 13, which states

“The sole purpose of the investigation of an accident shall be the prevention of accidents and incidents. It is not the purpose of this activity to apportion blame or liability.”

As noted previously here (Criminalization of Aviation Work Hurts Aviation Safety), criminalization of an aviation accident investigation shifts the focus from determining what caused the accident and how to prevent it from reoccurring to who is to blame. The process moves from a free exchange of information to one in which the targets of the criminal investigation may have a constitutional right to withhold relevant information.

The International Civil Aviation Organization was established in 1944 to insure that all of the member states operate from a uniform set of aviation rules. ICAO Annex 13 is a prime example of standards that place primacy on safety. The data presented by Mr. Adams indicates that Annex 13 is not being strictly observed.

The US is ably represented in Montreal by Ambassador Duane Woerth. He is a former president of ALPA and knows the value gained from safety investigations. Ambassador Woerth should ensure that the facts pointed out by Mr. Adams are brought to ICAO’s attention and appropriate action taken forthwith.

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