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Regulation 996/2010 on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation

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Regulation (EU) No 996/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation and repealing Directive 94/56/EC (full text)

Objective

This Regulation aims to improve aviation safety by ensuring a high level of efficiency, expediency, and quality of European civil aviation safety investigations. It also:

  • provides for rules concerning the timely availability of information relating to all persons and dangerous goods on board an aircraft involved in an accident;
  • aims to improve the assistance to the victims of air accidents and their relatives.

Summary

Scope

The Regulation applies to safety investigations into accidents and serious incidents:

  • which have occurred in the territories of the EU Member States;
  • which have occurred outside the territories of the EU Member States, but involve aircraft registered in a Member State or operated by an undertaking established in a Member State;
  • in which a EU Member State is entitled to appoint an accredited representative to participate in the investigation;
  • in which a EU Member State (having a special interest by virtue of fatalities or serious injuries to its citizens) is permitted by the State conducting the investigation to appoint an expert.

The Regulation does not apply to safety investigations into accidents and serious incidents which involve aircraft engaged in military, customs, police or similar services.

Investigation Authorities

Each EU Member State shall appoint a national civil aviation safety investigation authority (SIA). The SIA shall be given sufficient resources and budget to conduct full safety investigations and be independent of other aviation authorities (e.g. certification authorities, airworthiness authorities, etc), and of any other party or entity, the interests of which could influence its objectivity.

The SIA remit may be extended to include gathering and analysis of aviation safety related information, in particular for accident prevention purposes. A safety review shall be published annually at national level in order to inform the public of the general aviation safety level.

Safety investigation authorities shall establish a European Network of Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authorities (the Network), composed of the heads of the SIA in each of the EU States. The Network shall seek to improve the quality of investigations conducted by SIAs and to strengthen their independence. In particular, it shall encourage high standards in investigation methods and investigator training; provide advice to regulatory bodies; promote best safety investigation practices and facilitate cooperation between the SIAs. EASA shall be invited as an observer to the meetings of the Network.

Safety investigation authorities shall invite EASA (provided there is not conflict of interest) to appoint a representative to participate as an adviser:

  • to the investigator-in-charge in any safety investigation falling within the scope of this Regulation;
  • to assist accredited representative(s) of the EU States in any safety investigation conducted in a third country.

Conduct of Safety Investigations

Every accident or serious incident involving aircraft other than those specified in Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 shall be the subject of a safety investigation. Safety investigation authorities may decide to investigate also other accidents, serious incidents or incidents when they expect to draw safety lessons from them.

A SIA shall notify without delay the European Commission, EASA, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the EU States and third countries concerned in accordance with the international SARPS of the occurrence of all accidents and serious incidents of which it has been notified.

EU Member States shall ensure that SIAs, on the one hand, and other authorities likely to be involved in the activities related to the safety investigation, such as the judicial, civil aviation, search and rescue authorities, on the other hand, cooperate with each other through advance arrangements. Those arrangements shall respect the independence of the SIA and allow the technical investigation to be conducted diligently and efficiently.

The SIA should be granted immediate and unrestricted access to the site of the accident and all the elements necessary to satisfy the requirements of a safety investigation should be made available to them, without compromising the objectives of a judicial investigation. Article 11 of the Regulation establishes a number of entitlements of the investigator-in-charge which shall ensure that he has the authority to take the necessary measures to satisfy the requirements of the safety investigation.

The EU State in the territory of which an accident or serious incident occurred shall be responsible for ensuring safe treatment and protection of all evidence.

Safety investigations shall not apportion blame or liability. They shall be independent of, separate from and without prejudice to any judicial or administrative proceedings.

Protection of Sensitive Safety Information

Article 14 of the Regulation establishes a list of records that shall not be made available or used for purposes other than safety investigation, such as:

However, it is recognised that the administration of justice or the competent authority in a EU Member State may decide on the disclosure of records according to national law. Member States are invited to limit the cases in which such a decision of disclosure may be taken.

Communication of Information

Article 15 of the Regulation stipulates that:

  • the anonymity of those involved in an accident or incident shall be protected;
  • information, deemed relevant to the prevention of accidents and incident, shall be communicated to aircraft (and equipment) manufacturers, maintenance organisations, aircraft operators and training organisations;
  • EASA and national civil aviation authorities receive relevant factual information obtained during the safety investigation, except information referred to in Article 14(1);
  • victims and their relatives or their associations or public are appropriately informed without compromising the objectives of the safety investigation.

Article 20 of the Regulation obliges EU airlines to provide to the SIA in charge and to the other concerned entities:

  • the validated list of all the persons on board - as soon as possible, and at the latest within two hours of the notification of the occurrence of an accident;
  • the list of the dangerous goods on board - immediately after the notification of the occurrence of an accident.

The Investigation Report

Each safety investigation shall be concluded with a report in a form appropriate to the type and seriousness of the accident or serious incident without apportioning blame or liability. The report shall protect the anonymity of any individual involved in the accident or serious incident.

Before publication of the final report, the SIA shall solicit comments from the authorities concerned, including EASA. The final report shall be made public in the shortest possible time and if possible within 12 months of the date of the accident or serious incident. If the final report cannot be made public within 12 months, the SIA shall release an interim statement detailing the progress of the investigation and any safety issues raised.

The SIA shall forward a copy of the final report and the safety recommendations as soon as possible to the:

  • safety investigation authorities and civil aviation authorities of the States concerned, and the ICAO;
  • addressees of safety recommendations contained in the report;
  • European Commission and EASA.

Safety Recommendations and follow-up

Safety recommendations may be issued by the SIA in a formal letter, after appropriate consultation with relevant parties. Such recommendations may contain any preventive actions considered necessary to enhance aviation safety. A safety recommendation shall in no case create a presumption of blame or liability for an accident, serious incident or incident.

Within 90 days of the receipt of the letter the addressee of a safety recommendation shall inform the SIA that issued the recommendation, of the actions taken or under consideration, and where appropriate, of the time necessary for their completion and where no action is taken, the reasons therefore.

The SIA shall respond within 60 days of the receipt of the reply by signifying its opinion on the adequacy of the reply.

Each entity receiving a safety recommendation, including the authorities responsible for civil aviation safety at State and EU level, shall implement procedures to monitor the progress of the action taken in response to the safety recommendations received.

Safety investigation authorities shall record in the central repository established under Commission Regulation (EC) No 1321/2007 all safety recommendations issued by them or received from third countries, as well as the responses thereto.

EASA and the competent Member State authorities shall collaborate in the exchange and analysis of information covered by Regulation 376/2014 - Reporting, Analysis and Follow-Up of Occurrences in Civil Aviation. This shall cover online access to information contained in the central repository established under Regulation (EC) No 1321/2007. Confidentiality of such information shall be ensured and its use shall be limited to what is strictly necessary to discharge safety related obligations.

Assistance to the Victims of Air Accidents and their Relatives

In order to ensure a more comprehensive and harmonised response to accidents at EU level, each Member State shall establish a civil aviation accident emergency plan at national level. Such an emergency plan shall also cover assistance to the victims of civil aviation accidents and their relatives.

States shall ensure that all airlines established in their territory have a plan for the assistance to the victims of civil aviation accidents and their relatives. States shall audit the assistance plans of the airlines established in their territory.

Each EU Member State concerned by an accident (by virtue of fatalities or serious injuries to its citizens) shall appoint a person as a point of contact and information for the victims and their relatives. Such States may also appoint an expert who shall have the right to:

  • visit the scene of the accident;
  • receive information on the progress of the investigation as well as relevant factual information, approved for public release by the SIA in charge;
  • receive a copy of the final report.

Entry into Force

This Regulation enters into force in December 2010 and shall be subject to a review no later than 3 December 2014. It repeals Directive 94/56/EC on the investigation of civil aviation accidents and incidents.

Regulation (EU) No 996/2010 on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation - full text.

Related articles

Further Reading

ICAO

  • ICAO Annex 13 - Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation

EU

EUROCONTROL