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IATA expresses concerns on Germanwings investigation

IATA director general Tony Tyler has called for aircraft accident investigations to be conducted in a “non-punitive” manner, in the aftermath of a Germanwings Airbus A320 crash which was found to be intentionally caused by the flight’s co-pilot.

The investigation into that crash has been “highly unusual”, Tyler tells reporters at an IATA press roundtable in Washington, DC. “It was a highly-public criminal investigation,” he says, noting that the aviation industry has long-established procedures related to investigating incidents.

IATA is not the only organisation that has expressed reservations about the investigation into the Germanwings crash. Pilot associations have taken issue with the release of information from the investigation by French prosecutors, who have so far pinned the cause of the 24 March crash on deliberate action by the co-pilot.

“The first thing we have to make sure is that the accident is properly investigated,” says Tyler. “We learn what happened and we draw conclusions about what needs to be done.”

Asked if IATA believes the French authorities had mishandled the investigation, Tyler says: “No, I’m not going to say anyone has done anything wrong. But the important principle to bear in mind is that accident investigations should be conducted on a non-punitive basis.”

“When you have the possibility of punitive measures resulting from an accident investigation, you start to introduce unhelpful dynamics into the whole process,” adds Tyler, saying that investigations then risk losing transparency and openness.

Several authorities and airlines have reacted to the Germanwings crash by requiring two crew members to be at the flight deck at all times. “It seems like a sensible thing to do as we consider what else needs to be done,” says Tyler.

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