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EUROCONTROL supports national judiciaries in need of aviation expertise with the first list of aviation prosecutor experts

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EUROCONTROL supports national judiciaries in need of aviation expertise with the first list of aviation prosecutor experts

EUROCONTROL in cooperation with the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) and the European Cockpit Association (ECA) supports Member States and their judiciaries in finding aviation safety experts trained in Just Culture principles to assist national prosecutors entrusted with the judicial review of aviation incidents and accidents. Experts can be requested to help prosecutors understand the details of aviation occurrences so prosecutors can make an informed decision whether a judicial investigation or criminal prosecution is necessary or not.

Aviation safety is paramount, and establishing a ‘Just Culture’ reporting environment, in which frontline operators can feel confident that they will not be punished for reporting incidents and providing essential safety-related information, while remaining clear about where the line must be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, is key to the operation of a safe air transport system. Just Culture aims to foster mutual trust, learning and responsibility, so that knowledge is shared to prevent future safety occurrences, and that safety investigations and judicial processes regarding aviation incidents or accidents can each maintain their own independence and objectivity, without undue interference with each other.

I am delighted that EUROCONTROL has established a list of prosecutor experts ready to assist and advise national prosecutors in case of accidents or incidents. This was achieved through the good cooperation with representatives of both air traffic controllers and pilots. Being able to consult with an aviation expert trained in Just Culture can enormously contribute to the work of the judiciary, raise the standards for safety and ultimately help to improve overall public safety.”

When requested by a judicial authority of a EUROCONTROL Member State, EUROCONTROL will be able to make a recommendation on a suitable expert. It remains the decision and choice of any prosecutor to avail themselves of an expert from the list, thus leaving them the freedom of action in full respect of the independence of the justice system.

The Just Culture experts on the list are air traffic controllers or pilots who have been through advanced training and confirmed as prosecution experts based on criteria established by the Just Culture Task Force, IFATCA and ECA.

As part of the advanced training, senior prosecutors and judges impart their knowledge to aviation experts so that as part of an investigation, they can assist prosecutors determine whether or not an incident is a potential criminal offence. The course has been created at the initiative of the Just Culture Task Force, which itself is a group with a wide membership from aviation, rail, maritime and healthcare, as well as members of the judiciary, meeting regularly under the auspices of EUROCONTROL. The course and its proceedings are in accordance with the EUROCONTROL Model for a Policy Regarding Criminal Investigation and Prosecution of Aviation and Railway Incidents and Accidents as unanimously endorsed by the Provisional Council in 2018.

EUROCONTROL Model for a Policy Regarding Criminal Investigation and Prosecution of Aviation and Railway Incidents and Accidents

After an accident or incident within civil aviation, it is an obligation under international and EU law for a safety investigation authority to launch a safety investigation. The purpose of such an investigation serves to prevent a recurrence of the accident or incident. A safety investigation will not apportion blame or liability and is independent of any other investigation. The objective of this Model Policy is to provide directions regarding the criminal investigation and prosecution of potential criminal offences resulting from aviation incidents or accidents that come to the attention of prosecutors so that both the safety investigation and judicial process can progress in parallel without either party acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the other. Ensuring a process in the aftermath of incidents or accidents that achieves a balance between the administration of justice and the safety requirements is essential and maintains public confidence. EUROCONTROL has been supporting Member States and their judiciaries for over 20 years by promoting Just Culture principles in aviation and other transport sectors.

If you would like to seek EUROCONTROL’s support in finding aviation safety experts trained in Just Culture principles, please contact us by using the dedicated button below.

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