AAI covers all aspects of accident investigation. This second edition has updated chapters and includes new information on the investigation of in-flight fires, electrical circuitry, and composite structure failure. It explains the investigation procedures required by the NTSB and ICAO. After dealing with basic investigation techniques, the book covers aeronautical and structural knowledge useful to investigators. Finally it provides chapters on analysis, investigation management, and report writing. The appendices include bibliographical references tables of useful aeronautical information, the Code of Ethics and Conduct of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators. There is also a glossary and comprehensive index.
The authors of Aircraft Accident Investigation (Wood and Sweginnis) provide a superb review of the philosophy, reasoning, methods, controversial issues and associated ramifications that are applied in the investigation of the unique and complex challenges posed by aircraft accidents.
Aircraft operations and the resulting accidents are unique because:
- The aircraft is continuously fighting the unrelenting law of gravity which instantaneously takes advantage of any failures or weaknesses in this struggle for survival. Human errors, carelessness and complacency are likely to be more catastrophic in air transportation than in any other means of transportation.
- Unlike surface traffic, an airplane cannot stop to attend to emergencies such as power plant failure, crew incapacitation or structural failure.
- It requires the coordinated cooperative efforts of a greater variety of associated technologies than any other system of transportation—air traffic control, airport management, weather, navaids, flight planning and dispatching, communications, ramp operations, et cetera.
- It is three dimensional, requiring navigation in three dimensions, subject to the variable hazards of the atmosphere, of terrain, and of air traffic threats from every direction. In the next century will be the problem of increased exposure of aircraft occupants to cosmic radiation in sub-orbital operations.
- “Aviation to an even greater extent than the sea is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.”
Despite these formidable hurdles, which in toto are not present in any other form of transportation, safety has been achieved in a remarkably short time. Safety is here defined as the achievement of normal life expectancies by those most exposed to the hazards of air transportation—the airline pilots. Since 1955, they can secure life insurance at the same cost as the typist who prepares the insurance policy! Over 1 billion global passengers fly the airlines annually, approaching the excellent fatal accident rate of 1 per million airline flights. Aircraft operated by corporations for business purposes enjoy a similar recordthey too are flown by professional pilots. Millions of others fly in general aviation with a higher but steadily improving accident rate.
Much of these successes in safety have been due to lessons learned from the investigation of aircraft accidents by dedicated, patient, objective and thorough engineers, pilots and technicians who are trained in the art and science of aircraft accident investigation. The two very knowledgeable, experienced authors of this text show you how it is done. So read on!
Jerome F. Lederer
Richard H. Wood has been involved in aviation safety and aircraft accident investigation since 1963. He is a Professional Engineer (Safety), a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), a retired pilot (U.S. Air Force) and a retired Professor of Safety Science at the University of Southern California. He is presently a Director of Southern California Safety Institute and an active consultant in both aircraft accident investigation and aviation safety. He is the author of numerous books, articles and professional papers on aviation safety and aircraft accident investigation. He has investigated over 125 aircraft accidents and lectures on the subject for Southern California Safety Institute. He currently lives (and writes) in Bellingham, Washington.
Robert W. Sweginnis, now deceased, was an Associate Professor at Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Arizona campus. He was a Professional Engineer (Safety), a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), and a retired U.S. Air Force command pilot. He has been active in aircraft accident investigation and system safety since 1973. His safety experience spans the military, industry and academe. In addition to teaching at ERAU’s Center for Aerospace Safety Education, he also taught aircraft accident investigation and system safety for the University of Southern California’s Institute of Safety and Systems Management, the University of Washington’s Engineering Professional Programs, and Southern California Safety Institute.