Keywords: accident investigation, emergency management, methodology, transportation, safety boards
Accident investigations: trends, paradoxes and opportunities
During the last decade, accident investigations have gained much attention due to the fact that all over the world major accidents have occurred. Especially, the transportation industry has suffered severe accidents in which many lives have been lost and public debate has been continued long after the accidents occurred. This contribution describes some observations, trends and paradoxes regarding major accidents in aviation and shipping. Four dominant factors seem to be present: an increased public and media attention, the changes in nature and extent of major accidents, changes in administrative and political response to major accident occurrence, and changes in the role of accident investigation practices. These changes reveal paradoxes and call for new approaches in the investigation process. These changes also influence the role of transport safety boards and call for a possible repositioning of the accident investigation concept. An assessment is made regarding the threats and opportunities for major accident investigation in the future.