Separation of judicial and investigative proceedings will be among improvements to accident investigation procedures to be discussed by European transport ministers today.

New European transport commissioner Siim Kallas is to present proposals to a ministerial council in Brussels.

Conflict between the interests of judicial authorities and safety investigators has been a cause for concern during several civil accident inquiries.

The European Commission says the new regulation, which Kallas will outline, will "clearly separate" technical investigations from "other proceedings", and afford "special protection" to relevant evidence.

This change features among five specific measures being put forward to improve civil aviation accident investigation.

The proposal will ensure that every recommendation emerging from an inquiry is assessed within 90 days, and acted upon if justified, and puts forward a plan for a permanent database of safety recommendations.

In parallel the update would require the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and national authorities to conduct systematic analysis of occurrence information in order to establish whether the data indicates an elevated accident risk.

Airlines would be obliged to provide complete passenger and crew manifests within an hour of an accident, following criticism over cases in which reliable information has been delayed.

Disparity in investigative capabilities across the European Union would be addressed through a network of investigation authorities, to provide training and support.

Ministers will also discuss the need to avoid a potential conflict of interest by clearly defining the role of EASA. The European Commission says that the new proposal will grant EASA - as the certification agency - timely access to factual information, but limit its direct involvement in an inquiry.

If there is sufficient support for the proposals, the Commission adds, it could go before the European Parliament for a first reading this summer.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news