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European Union: New Rules on Air Safety Proposed

(Apr. 2, 2010) On March 11, 2010, the European Commission unveiled new legislation on safety in civil aviation at a meeting of the European Union transport ministers in Brussels. The proposed regulation takes into account the experience gained in investigating airplane accidents since the adoption of Directive 94/56/EC Establishing Fundamental Principles Governing the Investigation of Civil Aviation Accidents and Incidents. (Council Directive 94/56/EC, Nov. 21, 1994, 1994 OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (L 319) 14-19, available at

Some of the key objectives of the draft regulation include:

· strengthening the implementation of safety recommendations. For the first time, Member States must ensure that every recommendation adopted at the end of an air accident investigation must be assessed within a 90-day firm deadline and acted upon if needed. The Commission intends to establish a database containing a list of all safety recommendations.

· establishing investigation resources. The proposal calls for the establishment of a European Network of Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authorities. The primary responsibility for investigating air accidents still lies with the national authorities, but the network will provide support, training, and resources to improve and strengthen the investigation capabilities of national authorities.

· improving the rights of victims of air accidents. Airlines will be responsible for providing within an hour of the time of an accident a complete list of all those aboard. EU Members will be required to provide swift and efficient assistance in case of an accident. Families of victims are guaranteed the right to accurate information regarding the progress of investigations.

· clarifying the role of the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA), established in 2002. EASA, which is responsible for certifying airplanes in the EU, will have prompt access to the facts of and all pertinent information resulting from an accident investigation to enable it to take essential safety measures. Direct involvement of EASA in investigations will be limited, in order to avoid conflict-of-interest issues.

· being more proactive to prevent accidents from occurring. The proposal calls for EASA and EU members to collaborate in analysis of risk information data indicating the existence of a potential problem, to minimize hazards and avoid accidents to the extent possible.

(Press Release, Air Safety: New EU Rules to Strengthen Air Accident Investigations, MEMO/10/73 (Mar. 10, 2010), EUROPA RAPID, available at