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Quality of accident reports a major concern

May 22, 2006

Quality of accident reports a major concern to industry body

This week’s exoneration by the Coroner’s inquest into a fatal helicopter crash at Taumarunui in 2001, of two engineers earlier found by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission’s report to have caused the accident through defective maintenance work, comes as no surprise to the Aviation Industry Association (AIA).

“Regrettably, the industry has major concerns regarding the quality of TAIC’s work” said Irene King, AIA Chief Executive.

“Too many investigations do not find the real cause.”

AIA contends that in large part this is a consequence of the legislative framework under which TAIC operates. This framework requires them to treat information that they receive in confidence. While in many cases this allows information to emerge which otherwise might not, a serious down-side is that there is no equally strong assurance that such information will be rigorously tested.

“Although TAIC aviation investigators typically have distinguished aviation careers, the industry is not confident that they have all of the requisite skills and experience to test evidence, deal with conflicting information or fully understand some of the systemic issues that can be the hidden part of the iceberg of any accident.

“When these limitations are overlain on the protection of information provisions, it is not surprising that major mistakes in determining cause occur.

“The unfortunate effect of defective investigations is that the real cause goes undetected and thus the main purpose of investigating accidents – which is to learn from them, rather than blame anyone – goes unachieved.”

AIA’s view is that careful amendment of the TAIC legislation is needed combined with a major overhaul of TAIC’s internal quality assurance program and commensurate investment in investigatory skills.


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