Alexandria, VA, Feb. 26, 2009 — The Flight Safety Foundation today sharply criticized the interference of prosecutors in ongoing aviation accident investigations in Italy and France, warning that such interference hampers efforts to improve aviation safety and prevent similar accidents in the future.
The safety investigations of a Cessna Citation accident in Rome on Feb. 7, 2009, and the crash of an XL Air A320 off the coast of France on Nov. 27, 2008, are being held up because law enforcement authorities seized vital evidence before safety investigators could examine it. In recent days, the French authorities have returned some of the Airbus evidence to safety investigators.
However, Italian authorities still have not shared the evidence. Laws in both countries allow the judicial investigation to take the lead, and vital safety evidence, such as the cockpit voice and flight data recorders, historically has been withheld from safety investigators.
“Unless there is evidence of sabotage, law enforcement and judicial authorities need to step aside, allow accident investigators immediate access to the wreckage and to surviving crew and passengers, and let safety professionals do their job,” said FSF President and CEO William R. Voss. “To prevent another tragedy, it’s far more important that we learn what happened, and why, than to build a criminal case. Reports of interference with the accident investigations in Italy and France are very troubling; we simply cannot allow these obstacles to keep us from learning and acting quickly after a crash.”
Voss said he understood how the public’s shock and grief leads to calls for justice and accountability in the wake of an aircraft accident, but added, “We cannot allow the safety of the aviation system to be jeopardized by prosecutorial overreach.” Voss reiterated the Foundation’s support for legislation in Europe and elsewhere that would ensure the primacy of the safety investigation.
The Flight Safety Foundation is one of the leading voices in opposing the criminalization of aviation accident investigations. The Joint Criminalization Resolution was published in 2006.
Flight Safety Foundation is an independent, non-profit, international organization engaged in research, auditing, education, advocacy and publishing to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to pursue the continuous improvement of global aviation safety and the prevention of accidents. www.flightsafety.org
Contact: Emily McGee, Director of Communications, 1-703-739-6700, ext. 126; firstname.lastname@example.org