Why the AAIB is so important to GA
In this issue you will find our précis of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch’s exhaustive investigation of the Shoreham Hunter accident (‘Safety Matters’, p.73). Air accidents in the professional flying world and general aviation alike are rarely the result of a single systems breakdown, mechanical failure or mistake on the part of any one individual – something that became apparent in the early days aviation, leading to the first formal accident investigation in 1912, and the formation during WWI of what has evolved into the AAIB.
Now part of the Department for Transport, the AAIB has long had a worldleading reputation for the independence and thoroughness of its work, and the findings from its investigations have provided many valuable lessons for the whole flying community. The importance of this is made all the more apparent by the lack of accuracy of general reporting on air accidents in the media and some of the opinionated comment appearing online. To draw your information and impressions from these sources alone would be to live in ignorance and fall into the trap of thinking ‘it could never happen to me’.
We do not have room in the magazine, never mind ‘Safety Matters’ to cover the numerous recommendations arising from the Shoreham Hunter report but, as with so many AAIB investigations, the devil is in the detail and there are things in it that should be food for thought there, even for pilots who do not fly aerobatics or profess no interest in display flying. Issues that might (and I stress might) have played a part in the accident like the time between overhaul of old engines, possible confusion in reading instruments, the level of training and currency are all of wider interest.
The CAA has acted (controversially in some areas) to make sure that there is no repeat of this terrible accident. The show organisers and associations are all reviewing their own activities too. I would say that while few of us operate such complex and high energy machinery as fast jets and only a minority of us fly aerobatics, we should have our ears and eyes open to problems, human and mechanical, that just might read across to our own areas of flying.