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Air Traffic Accidents

The Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 1996 as extended by the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) (Guernsey) Order 1998 provides that within the Bailiwick of Guernsey any air accidents or serious incidents must immediately be reported to The Bailiff regardless of the time of day or night.

If an accident occurs out of normal office hours then The Bailiff (or the Deputy Bailiff, HM Procureur or HM Comptroller who can act on his behalf) must be contacted by the Airport Authorities to obtain permission before an aircraft can be moved.

An air accident is defined as an occurrence during the period between boarding and disembarking the aircraft where fatal or serious injuries requiring hospital treatment are incurred or the aircraft suffers damage or structural failure.

Serious incident means an incident involving circumstances where an accident nearly occurred. There are many examples of these types of incidents ranging across a number of factors.

The Air Accident Investigation Board (the AAIB) in the UK deals with such accidents in the United Kingdom and in the Crown Dependencies. The AAIB will be contacted immediately and given full details of the accident. The role of the AAIB is to improve aviation safety by determining the causes of air accidents and serious incidents and making safety recommendations intended to prevent recurrence. It is not the purpose of the investigation to apportion blame or liability. The AAIB will decide if they need to send out an investigation team.

The Bailiff has the statutory obligation in the Bailiwick to permit an aircraft to be moved. This is usually given without undue delay after communication with the AAIB. In some cases it may not be possible or desirable to move the aircraft until a full investigation has been completed.

In the case of a serious accident the emergency services will attend and facilitate any requirements for saving life or treating injured persons. The AAIB and the Bailiff will be kept informed and will liaise with the emergency services and Air Traffic Control to determine what action needs to be taken.

The Bailiff, after consultation and in collaboration with relevant insular authorities and agencies, has promulgated a guide for the emergency services and other relevant parties in the Bailiwick. It is based on AAIB guidelines.

In the case of a minor incident the AAIB may not deem it necessary to despatch a field team particularly if there has been no loss of life or injury and damage to the aircraft is of a minor nature. Such instances may include damage to or failure of a wheel on a private aircraft. Appropriate investigation requirements can be discharged by local personnel. The Bailiff will give permission for an aircraft to be moved once all necessary information had been collected.