IATA director general Tony Tyler has called for aircraft accident investigations to be conducted in a “non-punitive” manner, in the aftermath of a Germanwings Airbus A320 crash which was found to be intentionally caused by the flight’s co-pilot.
The investigation into that crash has been “highly unusual”, Tyler tells reporters at an IATA press roundtable in Washington, DC. “It was a highly-public criminal investigation,” he says, noting that the aviation industry has long-established procedures related to investigating incidents.
IATA is not the only organisation that has expressed reservations about the investigation into the Germanwings crash. Pilot associations have taken issue with the release of information from the investigation by French prosecutors, who have so far pinned the cause of the 24 March crash on deliberate action by the co-pilot.
“The first thing we have to make sure is that the accident is properly investigated,” says Tyler. “We learn what happened and we draw conclusions about what needs to be done.”
Asked if IATA believes the French authorities had mishandled the investigation, Tyler says:
“No, I’m not going to say anyone has done anything wrong. But the important principle to bear in mind is that accident investigations should be conducted on a non-punitive basis.”
“When you have the possibility of punitive measures resulting from an accident investigation, you start to introduce unhelpful dynamics into the whole process,” adds Tyler, saying that investigations then risk losing transparency and openness.
Several authorities and airlines have reacted to the Germanwings crash by requiring two crew members to be at the flight deck at all times. “It seems like a sensible thing to do as we consider what else needs to be done,” says Tyler.
Press release, 8 Apr 2015
Pilots: Germanwings crash investigation fails to meet international standards
MADRID, Spain – Gathering for their 70th Annual Conference, representatives of over 100,000 airline pilots from around the world have expressed their great concern about the accident investigation into Germanwings flight 4U9525 so far.
Pilots are dedicated to safety every single day. The only way flying will remain the safest way to travel is to strictly adhere to internationally agreed standards.
The Trouble with Germanwings Flight 9525
The reported discovery of the second “black box” of Germanwings Flight 9525, the Airbus 320 that crashed in the French Alps last month, appears to have put the Germanwings story to rest as far as the mainstream media is concerned. In a laconic press release published less than 24 hours after the plane’s Flight Data Recorder was reportedly found by a female gendarme, France’s air safety investigative authority, the BEA, announced that a preliminary reading of its contents confirmed that the flight’s co-pilot intentionally brought about the plane’s fatal decent.
The hypothesis that the plane was intentionally crashed by its allegedly suicidal co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, had first been floated by French prosecutor Brice Robin just two days after the crash. It has dominated the headlines ever since, quickly taking on the aura of established fact.