This guide aims to answer some of your early questions about a CAA accident investigation.

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What is an accident investigation?

We look into the circumstances surrounding an accident on behalf of the Director of Civil Aviation. The most important reason to do that is to learn any lessons the accident may have for the rest of the aviation community. It’s not to blame anyone, or make them liable for what happened.

How long will it take?

An investigator might examine the accident scene, gather facts, and review relevant documentation. They work methodically and scientifically using technical expertise. That may take several weeks or even months.

In addition, each investigator is involved in multiple cases at any one time. The overall length of time it takes to complete each investigation is difficult to determine, because each is different. But the final report may not be complete for up to 18 months after the accident.

What will it involve?

Initial enquiries

We assign an Investigator-in-Charge (IIC). As the name suggests, the IIC manages all aspects of the investigation. They may conduct a scene examination, possibly taking photographs and recording details. The IIC will also liaise with police officers and emergency personnel at the site.

The next steps

Once any scene examination is over, the IIC decides which parts of the aircraft need to be held on to for more analysis. The IIC talks to witnesses, and anyone directly involved with the aircraft. The IIC might also need to talk to family and friends of those involved, to gather information from them. The IIC might also need to get personal documentation from family and friends, like the pilot’s logbook.

The IIC might also ask for help from organisations responsible for meteorology, air traffic control and pathology.

The final phase

When the investigation is finished, the IIC writes a report for the CAA. Copies of the report will be given to the Director of Civil Aviation, the family, and the coroner. It will then be published on our website to provide safety information to the aviation community.

Investigation interaction

The IIC is responsible for answering any enquiries, but will be limited in what information they will release to you, or can discuss with you, while the investigation is open.

If you have any information you think might help the investigation, please send it to the IIC or the manager of safety investigations.

Contact us

Formal requests for information should be made in writing and addressed to the Official information and privacy adviser 

If you need support

Skylight(external link) specialises in helping people going through grief, loss and trauma. Their number is 0800 299 100 or 04 939 6767. Or go to:

Victim Support(external link) offers free practical and emotional support to anyone affected by an incident: those directly affected, a family member, a witness to an event, the first person on the scene, and so on.