I was introduced to Airplane investigations more than 30 years ago as a young Airman while serving in Europe in the US Air Force as part of a military aircraft crash recovery detail.  The recovered items of an outstanding military pilot that I retrieved for the investigation that day will always remind me of the terrible plain and loss that the Air France Flt 447 families are currently going through.

It is for this reason that I have always paid particular attention to NTSB investigator briefings. I cannot recall a single time when the NTSB was not professional, forthcoming, always in control of the entire known facts, conduct their “independent” investigation in a non-political, and absolute detailed conclusions and findings. As we watch the “Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey” circus in Paris next week it is important that we understand the differences between the NTSB and BEA.

Take some time comparing the differences between the two investigative governing bodies below.  In the current Air France Flight 447 disaster we are are experiencing first hand the results of an Oligopolistic Aircraft industy, Euro labor industry influence, and Socialist Governmental beaurocrates.  This will erode the general public’s confidence in the airline industry and more importantly, our safety interest are being compromised.


bea_logoLe Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) pour la Sécurité de l’Aviation civile

Official BEA Mission Statement

The BEA is the official organization responsible for technical investigations into aviation accidents and incidents which occur on French territory.

These investigations are aimed at improving civil aviation safety. To do this, they must identify the circumstances of the accident or incident, determine the causes and develop recommendations intended to prevent similar events recurring.

A European directive specifically forbids that investigations aim to apportion blame or liability to persons or companies involved in the event…


French Regulations

The measures applicable to the conduct of investigations into aircraft accidents and incidents are, essentially speaking, a transposition into national law of international norms and recommended practices. Those differences which exist make only a slight difference to our foreign partners.

At the moment, the principal relevant regulations are articles R 142.2 (notification of accidents and incidents), R 425.2 (commencement of an investigation) and R 425.3 (commissions of inquiry) of the Civil Aviation Code, as well as Law 99-243 of 29 March 1999 relating to technical investigations into accidents and incidents in civil aviation.

This law confirms the role and the independence of the safety investigation, known as a technical investigation, specifies and confirms the powers of investigators and completes the relevant legal provisions, in particular with reference to communication and dissemination of information.

Notification of an event

1. Annex 13 (ICAO) specifies that the State of Occurrence of an accident or serious incident shall inform the State of Registration, the State of the Operator, the State of Design and the State of Manufacture of the aircraft.

2. The Civil Aviation Code states that all accidents and incidents must be declared by the Flight Commander to the manager of the nearest airport or to the Regional Air Traffic Control centre he is in touch with.

In strict accordance with Annex 13 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which stipulates that the sole objective of the investigation into an accident or incident is to prevent future accidents or incidents, and that this activity is intended neither to apportion blame, nor to assess individual or collective responsibility, the BEA makes no value judgments or hasty extrapolations.






Now lets look  NTSB. The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent Federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in the other modes of transportation — railroad, highway, marine and pipeline — and issuing safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. The Safety Board determines the probable cause of:


  • all U.S. civil aviation accidents and certain public-use aircraft accidents;
  • selected highway accidents;
  • railroad accidents involving passenger trains or any train accident that results in at least one fatality or major property damage;
  • major marine accidents and any marine accident involving a public and a nonpublic vessel;
  • pipeline accidents involving a fatality or substantial property damage;
  • releases of hazardous materials in all forms of transportation; and
  • selected transportation accidents that involve problems of a recurring nature.

The Board derives its authority from Title 49 of the United States Code, Chapter 11. The rules of the Board are located in Chapter VIII, Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations

The NTSB is responsible for maintaining the government’s database of civil aviation accidents and also conducts special studies of transportation safety issues of national significance. The NTSB provides investigators to serve as U.S. Accredited Representatives as specified in international treaties for aviation accidents overseas involving U.S.-registered aircraft, or involving aircraft or major components of U.S. manufacture.

The NTSB also serves as the “court of appeals” for any airman, mechanic or mariner whenever certificate action is taken by the Federal Aviation Administration or the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, or when civil penalties are assessed by the FAA. For more information about this NTSB function, see the pages regarding the Administrative Law Judges and General Counsel.

The NTSB opened its doors on April 1, 1967. Although independent, it relied on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for funding and administrative support. In 1975, under the Independent Safety Board Act, all organizational ties to DOT were severed. The NTSB is not part of DOT, or affiliated with any of its modal agencies.





BEA Related Links

Ministère de l’Écologie, du Développement et de l’Aménagement durables

BEA French Partners

The General Directorate for Civil Aviation (DGAC)

The National Civil Aviation School (ENAC)

Météo France

BEA’s Colleagues Abroad

Hong Kong
South Korea
United Kingdom
United States of America

Other links

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)

European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC)

The Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA)

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)


The European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment  (EUROCAE)

Flight Safety Foundation


Global Aviation Information Network (GAIN)

Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) / International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Common Taxonomy Team (CICTT)