Alexandria, VA, February 5, 2008 — Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) will hold a panel discussion about criminal prosecutions in the wake of aircraft accidents at the European Aviation Safety Seminar (EASS) March 10–12, 2008, in Bucharest, Romania. The seminar is co-presented with the European Regions Airline Association.
“We are very concerned about increasing attempts by prosecutors to turn accidents into crime scenes and to prosecute aviation professionals based on tragic mistakes, often using information and data that are provided voluntarily to improve aviation safety,” said FSF President and CEO William R. Voss. “The safety of the traveling public depends on encouraging a climate of openness and cooperation following accidents. Overzealous prosecutions threaten to dry up vital sources of information and jeopardize safety.”
The EASS panel will be moderated by FSF General Counsel Kenneth Quinn, a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop and former chief counsel for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Quinn has represented several aviation companies involved in grand jury investigations after accidents and served as counsel to SabreTech, which faced Federal criminal hazardous material charges and State of Florida murder and manslaughter charges in the wake of the ValuJet Flight 592 crash in May 1996.
Members of the panel will include:
Sean Gates of Gates and Partners in the United Kingdom, who has been deeply involved in cases stemming from the midair collision of the GOL Airlines Boeing 737 and Embraer Legacy in Brazil in September 2006, and the Helios Airways 737 crash near Athens in August 2005. Both cases involve attempted criminal prosecutions.
Daniel Soulez Larivière and Simon Foreman of the Paris-based firm Soulez Larivière & Associés, which is representing two former French civil aviation officials in the criminal prosecutions arising from the 1992 Air Inter Airbus A320 crash.
Roderick Van Dam, director of legal services for Eurocontrol and a leading proponent of the “just culture” concept, in which front-line operators and others are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions that are commensurate with their experience and training, but does not tolerate gross negligence, willful violations or destructive acts.
Gerard Forlin, a barrister who has successfully defended against corporate manslaughter prosecutions in the United Kingdom, where Parliament recently passed the “Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act of 2007,” which broadens the definition of corporate manslaughter and goes into effect in April 2008.
On Oct. 18, 2006, the Foundation, England’s Royal Aeronautical Society, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization in the Netherlands and the French Academie Nationale de L’Air et de L’Espace issued an unprecedented joint resolution denouncing the increasing tendency of law enforcement and judicial authorities to attempt to criminalize aviation accidents.
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
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