Why the AAIB is so im­por­tant to GA

Pilot - - PREFLIGHT - Philip White­man, Ed­i­tor

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.

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