Istanbul Runway Excursion Should be Investigated as Accident not Crime
by FSF Communications Staff | February 11, 2020
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — Flight Safety Foundation expresses its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the three people killed and the many injured in the Pegasus Airlines Flight 2193 runway excursion in Istanbul on Feb. 5. The investigation is underway to determine the cause(s) of this accident so future tragedies like this do not occur. The Foundation reminds all countries that criminalizing aviation accidents and incidents is detrimental to improving safety.
“After a tragic event like last week’s runway overrun, it is crucial that accident investigators be given the time and space to thoroughly investigate, determine the probable cause(s) and make any necessary safety recommendations to reduce the chances of similar accidents happening again,” said Dr. Hassan Shahidi, Foundation president and CEO. “Discovering what happened and, just as importantly, why it happened is made more difficult when the fear of prosecution is introduced. We urge the government of Turkey to exercise restraint in legal proceedings against the flight crew and to consider the possible adverse effects on the future of flight safety.”
The Foundation has long held that the criminalization of accidents and incidents negatively impacts safety. As the Foundation said in an information paper considered during the International Civil Aviation Organization’s 40th Assembly, criminalizing an accident shifts the focus from determining the cause and preventing a re-occurrence to apportioning blame and liability. The threat of prosecution can have a chilling effect on the flow of critical safety information during investigations and in the future. It is also an obstacle to establishing the trust and collaboration necessary to foster an effective safety culture and data sharing.
ICAO Annex 13, Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation, states unequivocally that the sole purpose of an aircraft accident or incident investigation is the prevention of future accidents and incidents and that “it is not the purpose” of an investigation to apportion blame or liability.
“Aviation is as safe as it is because of the willingness of stakeholders across the global aviation community to share information and work together,” Shahidi said. “We advocate for an atmosphere of inquiry and discovery by professional investigators to understand the cause(s) of accidents so that these tragedies don’t occur again. The threat of criminal prosecution is unwarranted at this stage of the investigation.”
Flight Safety Foundation is an independent, nonprofit, international organization engaged in research, education, advocacy and communications to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to be the leading voice of safety for the global aviation community.