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Aviation safety: civil aviation accidents and incidents

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Aviation safety: civil aviation accidents and incidents

This regulation aims to ensure a high level of efficiency, expediency and quality of European civil aviation safety investigations, in order to improve aviation safety in the European Union (EU). The sole objective of accident investigation is to prevent future accidents and incidents in civil aviation. This regulation also considers the assistance provided to air accident victims and their families.


Regulation (EU) No 996/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation and repealing Directive 94/56/EC.


Accident investigation and prevention

This regulation applies to safety investigations into accidents and serious incidents which occur:

  • within the European Union (EU);
  • outside the EU but involve aircraft registered in an EU country or operated by an undertaking established in an EU country;
  • in territories where an EU country may appoint a representative or has a special interest as a result of, for example, fatalities or series injuries to its citizens.

This regulation is not applicable to safety investigations into accidents and serious incidents involving aircraft engaged in military, customs, police or similar services.

Each EU country must ensure that safety investigations are conducted or supervised by a permanent national civil aviation safety investigation authority. This authority must be independent from any entity whose interests could conflict with or influence the safety investigation authority’s task or objectivity.

This regulation establishes an obligation for each EU country to investigate every accident or serious incident which occurs on its territory and involving an aircraft. The sole objective of this investigation is to prevent future accidents and incidents in civil aviation and not to apportion blame or liability. A national safety investigation authority from one EU country may request the assistance of other EU national safety investigation authorities.

To facilitate coordination of activities by national authorities, this regulation establishes a European Network of Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authorities, formed of all the national safety investigation authorities. This network will be responsible for improving the quality of investigations conducted by safety investigation authorities and strengthening their independence notably by encouraging high standards in investigation methods and investigator training.

The role of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in accident investigations is clarified by this regulation. Provided that there is no conflict of interest, national safety investigation authorities shall invite EASA to appoint a representative to participate as an adviser:

  • to the investigator-in-charge in any safety investigation falling within the scope of this regulation;
  • assisting accredited representatives * of EU countries in any safety investigation conducted in a non-EU country.

This regulation also establishes rules regarding the protection of safety information and the relation between safety investigation authorities and other authorities involved such as judicial authorities. The regulation obliges each EU country to establish advance arrangements between those authorities to improve their cooperation. These advance arrangements will notably cover subjects such as the access the accident site or the preservation of evidence.

The regulation creates a European Safety Recommendation database in which each safety investigation authority will have to record the safety recommendations it issued. The regulation also states that EASA and EU countries shall analyse civil aviation occurrences contained into the European Central Repository in order to take preventive actions.

Passenger information

EU airlines must provide a validated list of all the persons on board within two hours of the notification of the occurrence of an accident to the aircraft and a list of the dangerous goods on board immediately after the notification of the occurrence of an accident.

When booking the transport ticket, airlines must give travellers the opportunity to provide the name and contact details of an emergency contact. This information may only be used by the airlines in the event of an emergency and must not be communicated to third parties or used for commercial purposes.

Assistance to victims

EU countries must each establish a national civil aviation accident emergency plan, including provisions for assistance to victims of civil aviation accidents and their relatives. EU countries must also ensure that all airlines established in their country have their own plan for the assistance to victims and their relatives. This plan must:

  • take particular account of psychological support for victims of civil aviation accidents and their relatives;
  • allow the airline to react to a major accident;
  • be audited by the EU countries in which the airline is established.

EU countries should also encourage non-EU airlines which operate within the EU to adopt a similar plan for the assistance of victims and their relatives.

Following the occurrence of an accident, the EU country in charge of the investigation, in which the airline is established, or which had a large number of its citizens on board the aircraft involved in the accident, must appoint a reference person as a point of contact and information for the victims and their relatives.

This regulation repeals Directive 94/56/EC.

Key terms used in the act

  • Accredited representative: a person designated by a country, on the basis of his or her qualifications, for the purpose of participating in a safety investigation conducted by another country. An accredited representative designated by an EU country shall be from a safety investigation authority.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 996/2010



OJ L 295, 12.11.2010

Last updated: 14.04.2011