The European Commission recently published an evaluation of the EU regulations governing accident investigations in the civil aviation sector. The report was prepared jointly by research and consultancy firm Ecorys and NLR. Its main conclusion is that Regulation (EU) No. 996/2010 and the set of measures contained therein have resulted in improved accident investigations, and as such have contributed to greater aviation safety in Europe. In their report, Ecorys and NLR also recommended strengthening coordination between the various national safety boards and taking steps to better assure their independence. The European Commission is expected to make a decision on the recommendations in the report before the end of this year, and to translate them into stricter legislation or adjustments to policy if necessary.

In 2010, EU regulations governing accident investigations in the aviation sector were revised with the introduction of Regulation (EU) No. 996/2010 on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation. The aim was to improve the ‘lessons learned’ from accidents and incidents by means of more effective knowledge-sharing and information exchange. Among other measures, this Regulation provided for the creation of a European network bringing together the national safety boards of the various EU member states (European Network of Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authorities, ENCASIA). This network was supposed to lead to closer collaboration and the sharing of more information about accident investigations.

The main recommendation made in the Ecorys-NLR report is that the role of ENCASIA and the implementation of the Regulation should be further strengthened in the individual EU member states. That recommendation is based on research conducted by the two organizations, with support from Pablo Mendes de Leon, Professor of Air and Space Law at Leiden University . The overall conclusions and recommendations were elaborated into specific conclusions and recommendations for the five evaluation criteria: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, and added EU value.

Ecorys and NLR both have an extensive track record in performing evidence-based and independent policy evaluations. The two organizations possess complementary expertise and have successfully collaborated since 2000. The full version of the evaluation report was published by the European Commission on 30 August: click here