Aircraft Accident Investigation
(AAI)

Course Description

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 photography is used to document evidence and to illustrate the investigator's conclusions. There are many choices of media today, both chemical and electronic. In this course you will receive instruction in the use of both chemical and digital photography systems and have hands on experience with digital photography systems using the SCSI crash lab. 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.

Who Should Attend

This course is for individuals who may become involved in future aircraft accident investigations in any capacity and need to understand basic investigation technology.

How You Will Benefit

  • This course covers all aspects of investigation from applicable rules and regulations through investigation technology, analysis and reports.
  • The participant develops an understanding of the entire investigation process and is well prepared to participate in future investigations.
  • This course is accepted by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals for Continuance of Certification Credit.
  • SCSI will award 8.0 CEUs to each participant who successfully completes this course.

Course Topics

  • The Civil Investigation Process (USA)
  • International Investigation Procedures (ICAO)
  • Preparing for Investigation
  • Safety at the Crash Site
  • Priorities and Initial Actions
  • Investigation Techniques for: Engines, Structures, Fire, Aircraft Systems, Instruments, and Recording Devices
  • Wreckage Recovery and Reconstruction
  • Photography and Diagrams
  • Midair Collisions
  • Interviewing Witnesses
  • Behavior of Materials
  • Using the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) System
  • Aircraft Performance Factors
  • Computers and Simulation
  • Human Factors and Accident Pathology
  • Analytical Techniques
  • Reporting Requirements
  • Construction of Reports
  • Investigation Management.

Crash Lab

SCSI has assembled several exhibits from all over the world to allow our students a practical hands-on approach to investigation training. We routinely set aside dedicated time within the AAI course for a practical application of techniques discussed in the classroom. The AAI course has two full days of crash laboratory investigations beginning with small, general aviation aircraft and progressing in tasks to a complex military jet trainer.

Course Instructors

  • William Fowler
  • Rick Anglemyer
  • Dr. John Kennedy
  • Jon Lee
  • Steve Preteska

Course Administration

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 textbook, lecture outlines, additional reference material and a Certificate of Completion. Classes begin daily at 0800 and end at 4:00 PM on the final Friday. The on-site course coordinator is Denise Davalloo. Denise will be on-site daily during the course to assist in administrative and logistical matters.

Typical Comments from Attendees

  • "Very good course. Excellent overview of techniques, structures, and human factors. Aero-medical investigation particularly good."
  • "I was impressed with the amount of knowledge the instructors have. They bring a wealth of experience to the class."