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Civil aviation accidents and incidents



Regulation (EU) No 996/2010 — investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation


  • It aims to improve aviation safety by ensuring a high level of efficiency, expediency, and quality of European civil aviation safety investigations.
  • It lays down rules concerning the timely availability of information relating to all persons and dangerous goods on board an aircraft involved in an accident.
  • It also aims to improve the assistance to the victims of air accidents and their relatives.



  • This regulation applies to safety investigations into accidents* and serious incidents*:
    • which occur in the territories of European Union (EU) countries;
    • which occur outside the territories of the EU countries but involve aircraft registered in an EU country or which are operated by a company established in an EU country;
    • in which an EU country is entitled (according to international standards and recommended practices) to appoint an accredited representative to participate in the investigation;
    • in which an EU country — having special interest by virtue of fatalities or serious injuries to its citizens — is permitted by the country conducting the investigation to appoint an expert.
  • The regulation does not apply to safety investigations into accidents and serious incidents which involve aircraft engaged in military, customs, police or similar services.

Independent safety investigation authorities (SIAs)

  • Each EU country must ensure that safety investigations into civil aviation accidents and serious incidents are conducted, without external interference, by a permanent national civil aviation safety investigation authority (SIA).
  • Each SIA must be functionally independent from any authority or of any other party which could conflict with its tasks or influence its objectivity.
  • Each SIA must be capable of independently conducting a full safety investigation. EU countries must provide their respective SIAs with the means and finances — including a budget — to carry out their responsibilities independently and have access to sufficient resources.
  • In particular, the SIA must have at its disposal qualified personnel and adequate facilities including offices and hangars to store and examine the aircraft, its contents and its wreckage.

Obligation to investigate

  • Every accident or serious incident involving aircraft other than those specified in Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 must be the subject of investigation in the EU country of the territory of which it occurred.
  • SIAs may decide to investigate incidents other than the ones referred in the above paragraph, as well as accidents and serious incidents to other types of aircraft, when they expect to draw safety lessons from them.
  • In no event may safety investigations be concerned with apportioning blame or liability. They must be independent of, separate from and without prejudice to any judicial or administrative proceedings to apportion blame or liability.

Cooperation between safety investigation authorities

The regulation allows for cooperation between SIAs as well as for the possibility of delegating tasks.

European Network of Civil Investigation Authorities (ENCASIA)

EU countries must ensure that their SIAs establish among themselves a European Network of Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authorities (ENCASIA) to:

  • further improve the quality of the investigations conducted by SIAs and to strengthen their independence;
  • encourage high standards in investigation methods and investigator training.


  • Notwithstanding any judicial investigation, the investigator-in-charge has the authority to take the necessary measures to satisfy the requirements of the safety investigation. Among other things, the investigator is entitled to:
    • have immediate unrestricted and unhampered access to the accident or incident site as well as to the aircraft, its contents or wreckage;
    • require that evidence is collected and debris or components are removed for analysis;
    • request autopsies and the medical examination of the people involved in the operation of the aircraft;
    • call witnesses and require them to give evidence.
  • The EU country in the territory of which an accident or serious incident occurred is responsible for ensuring safe treatment and protection of all evidence.

Coordination with other authorities

  • EU countries must ensure that SIAs and other authorities (e.g. judicial, civil aviation, search and rescue involved in the safety investigation) cooperate with each other via advanced arrangements, providing that those arrangements do not compromise SIAs’ independence.
  • EU countries must communicate these arrangements to the European Commission, which has to transmit them to the ENCASIA Chairman, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

Confidentiality and appropriate use of information

  • The regulation establishes a list of records that must not be made available or used for purposes other than safety investigation (e.g. Flight Data Recorder data, draft reports, identity of persons who have given evidence, notes of investigators).
  • Rules in the regulation on confidential use of information, including information, such as serial and registration numbers, which directly identify aircraft subject to an occurrence report, are amended by Regulation (EU) No 376/2014. The regulation also recognises that the administration of justice or the authority competent may decide on the disclosure of records according to the national law. EU countries may decide to limit the cases in which such a decision of disclosure may be taken, while respecting EU legal acts.

Assistance for victims and relatives

  • EU countries must each put in place a national civil aviation accident emergency plan with provisions for assistance to victims of accidents and their relatives. They must also ensure that airlines have their own plan to help victims and their relatives, taking particular account of psychological support.
  • EU countries should also encourage non-EU airlines operating within the EU to adopt a similar plan.
  • Each EU country concerned by an accident must appoint a person as a point of contact and information for victims and relatives.
  • Airlines must offer travellers the opportunity to give the contact data of a person to be contacted in the event of an accident. The name of a person on board must not be made public before the relatives of that person have been informed.

Report and safety recommendations

  • During the investigation the safety authority will recommend any prompt action it considers necessary to enhance aviation safety to persons responsible for aircraft or aircraft equipment manufacture or maintenance, and to aircraft operators or for personnel training.
  • The investigation concludes with a report containing safety recommendations after final consultations with the authorities concerned, including the European Aviation Safety Agency. The final report is published in the shortest possible time, if possible within 12 months of the date of accident or incident. The authority will also record responses to its recommendations.
  • Each party receiving a safety recommendation, including the safety authorities at national and EU level, must also monitor the progress of the action taken in response to the safety recommendations received.
  • The regulation repeals Directive 94/56/EC.


It has applied since 2 December 2010.


For more information, see:


accident: an occurence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.

incident: an occurrence, other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft which affects or could affect the safety of operations.


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 (OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, pp. 35-50)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) No 996/2010 have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EU) No 376/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on the reporting, analysis and follow-up of occurrences in civil aviation, amending Regulation (EU) No 996/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Directive 2003/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Regulations (EC) No 1321/2007 and (EC) No 1330/2007 (OJ L 122, 24.4.2014, pp. 18-43)

last update 08.11.2016