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Criminalisation of Accidents

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Criminalisation of Accidents

Old 6th Feb 2008, 19:24
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Pilot charged with manslaughter after crash

I searched and checked this wasn't here already...


JAKARTA - The pilot of a Garuda Indonesia aircraft that crashed at Yogyakarta Airport killing 21 people last year has been arrested by police on charges that include manslaughter, his lawyer said.

Captain Marwoto Komar, who was arrested after eight hours of interrogation, was also charged with other offences including violating aviation law and could face more than five years in jail, said the pilot's lawyer, Muhammad Assegaf.

The Boeing 737, with 140 people on board, bounced and skidded off the runway in the central Javanese town of Yogyakarta before bursting into flames in a rice field last March.

Both pilots survived the crash, which happened less than three months after an Adam Air aircraft disappeared with 102 passengers and crew on board off Sulawesi island.

"We think there is no basis for his arrest," Assegaf said. "I believe [it] has raised a lot of eyebrows among the global aviation community."

Last year a report by the National Transport Safety Commission said the pilot ignored 15 warnings as he descended too rapidly, but declined to attribute the crash to "human error" or "pilot error".
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Old 6th Feb 2008, 20:23
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The Indonesian investigators should be highly commended for refusing to release the CVR data. This accords with the best traditions of safety and ICAO practices. The only reason for investigating an accident is to prevent another one. Prosecuting pilots is the end of good reporting systems, FOQA and many other improvements in safety over a number of years.
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Old 6th Feb 2008, 21:03
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4Greens said "The only reason for investigating an accident is to prevent another one".

err... surely this is a bit strong, are you saying pilots cannot be culpable, cannot be guilty of actionable negligence??

I dont agree, and nor will 99% of SLF.

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Old 6th Feb 2008, 21:14
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He has an ironclad defense: "It is my right to save face after that approach"
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Old 6th Feb 2008, 21:52
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Angry I think he should be nailed..........

I'm afraid I don't subscribe to the whole "nobody in aviation should ever be prosecuted regardless of how negligent they were" attitude. From the information supplied, he was in command of an approach that was way too fast, and he would have known this. He ignored warnings from the aircraft and the F/O's request to carry out a missed approach. This is negligence, leading to the deaths of many people. There is no difference, in my opinion, to somebody driving at twice the speed limit and causing death to others in the subsequent crash.
Nobody should ever be penalised for making an honest mistake, but this accident was way more than that and it has to be shown that the (I'm the Captain and therefore God) attitude and lack of CRM displayed on this flight (and which by all acounts pervades Indonesian aviation in general) is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
If anybody thinks he should not be prosecuted, ask yourselves if you would feel the same had a member of your family been killed on this flight?

Last edited by anawanahuanana; 7th Feb 2008 at 00:37. Reason: Spelling
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Old 6th Feb 2008, 23:14
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Public service drivers, pilots, captains of ships... of course the ultimate sanction is prosecution when bare faced negligence seems to have occurred in an accident causing injury or death. Just as with any car driver on our roads...
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Old 6th Feb 2008, 23:45
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Criminalisation of Accidents

From Avweb today. Post for info in light of recent developements re Brazil and Indonesia. Mods may wish to merge.

Criminal Conversation

The Flight Safety Foundation plans to discuss criminal prosecutions in the wake of aircraft accidents at its European Aviation Safety Seminar March 10-12, in Bucharest, Romania.

"We are very concerned about increasing attempts by prosecutors to turn accidents into crime scenes and to prosecute aviation professionals based on tragic mistakes," said William R. Voss, president and CEO of the foundation. "Overzealous prosecutions threaten to dry up vital sources of information and jeopardize safety."

The panel will be moderated by Kenneth Quinn, the foundation's general counsel, a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop and former chief counsel for the FAA. Over the years Quinn has represented several aviation companies involved in grand jury investigations after accidents and served as counsel to SabreTech, which faced federal criminal hazardous material charges and State of Florida murder and manslaughter charges in the wake of the ValuJet Flight 592 crash in May 1996.

More recently, Brazil has indicted two American charter pilots whose aircraft was involved in a collision with a 737 over the Amazon in 2006.
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 01:36
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This crap goes on...

Yes, I've seen/heard of law authorities prohibiting the NTSB and FAA from accessing the accident site..."This is a crime scene. You are not authorized to be here."

Of course, after the power-plays end, the 'law authorities' are sometimes demoted to security guard at a water slide park in Alaska.

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Old 7th Feb 2008, 05:06
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Sadly it is a similar situation as which occurred within the medical profession over the last 20 years where Doctors are now liable for simply doing their jobs. Many doctors (especially surgeons and Emergency Medical practitioners) even now take out their own insurance premiums just incase they find themselves being sued as generally the hospital insurance is not enough.

Could this soon start to happen in the aviation industry?
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 06:03
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This happened in NZ years ago. I think they have shot themselves in the foot, as now some pilots that I know routinely "disable" the CVR in and out of NZ. Can't say I blame them.

Unfortunately this does not enhance safety and is a major step in the wrong direction.
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 06:17
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The only independent evidence is data off the recorders, in particular, the voice recorder.

If this is used as part of the prosecution in defiance of international protocols there will be a movement to switch off the voice recorder. This can easily done by the pilots and a necessary ability in case of overloads in the circuit which can cause a fire.

This will almost certainly preclude the future installation of video recorders which will be an excellent tool for investigations.

The net result of prosecuting the pilot in these circumstances will be a reduction in aviation safety and hence the prevention of some avoidable accidents.

Punishment of this individual in these circumstances for whatever reason will put many other innocent parties at greater risk.

Last edited by 4Greens; 7th Feb 2008 at 10:22. Reason: Typo
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 06:20
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For the moderator:
Perhaps this forum should be merged with 'Pilot charged with manslaughter after crash'

My views are on that forum and are relevant
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 06:36
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I wonder how a jury would interpret deliberately switching off the CVR? Would they consider that as bad as destroying evidence after an accident?
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 06:49
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Didn't a Japanese captain get prosecuted a few years ago after some people got bounced off the ceiling in heavy turbulence? Very disturbing when these guys end up in jail. Guilty or not.
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 07:00
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Many of you may not be aware that in certain countries, for example France, legal investigations concerned with determining if a crime has been committed take precedence over the causal accident investigation. This issue was addressed three times in print in 2006 by Aviation Week's european columnist Pierre Sparaco.

In Germany, the state prosecution office is in charge of accident investigations in which people are injured, for non-aviation accidents. I shall inform myself what the situation is for commercial aviation (I have the law sitting on my shelf downstairs in a couple of thick folders, but I think I prefer to ask someone).

I addressed this issue a year ago in my talk to the 9th Bieleschweig Workshop in Hamburg
(Workshop Proceedings
talk slides). It is not going to go away.

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Old 7th Feb 2008, 07:29
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I was disappointed to read that after the LHR 777 crash landing last month Balpa accompanied (and therefore approved of) the crew being interviewed by the Police and the AAIB. If the AAIB were trying to find out the cause of the accident (their job) what were the Police doing?
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 08:26
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Foul play?

Maybe the police were not at all interested in any possible "negligence" of the crew -- that would seem anyway premature -- but they might have been anxious to exclude any suspicion of foul play by third parties as quickly as possible. Is this type of interview routine nowadays?
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 08:42
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This is anything that a smart lawyer can stick on you by using the legal system, generally on the basis that their lawyer is smarter than your lawyer. It is particularly valuable in those countries where lawyers are paid a percentage of the "damages" that are thereby collected, and most useful of all is where some connection, however obscure, can be found to an organisation in the United States so their law system can be involved.

Any connection with the real meaning of negligence, or justice as commonly understood, is purely coincidental.
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 10:09
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The suggestion from some posters seems to be that prosecution of individual pilots in these circumstances will result in a reduction of aviation safety. I assert the opposite is true. If you are of the opinion that negligence should go unpunished, then just wait until the reckless driver slams into one of your children.

The principle of apportioning blame and applying punishment after actions by an individual or company resulting in loss of life or injury is long established in law. It is enshrined in civil law for a long time, many centuries in fact.

If, after several warnings and urgings from the FO, the Captain of this particular flight continued an ill advised course of action then he must be accountable for the subsequent damaging results.

Trial and punishment under these circumstances will show others that their actions might be held to account in similar circumstances. If this leads to one pilot changing his mind and seeking the safer option then the trial of this pilot has been worthwhile.

As for hordes of pilots pulling Circuit Breakers, it is just not going to happen. The lack of recorded data will become apparent very quickly to our engineering colleagues and it would not be long before the very inept and stupid pilot was invited for tea and biscuits.

Attitudes to this type of incident/accident vary around the world, as we know, but if a uniformly harsh and critical approach to criminal negligence was adopted universally, flying would ultimately be a safer industry.

Accountability must apply to everyone, and particularly to those who have the responsibility of the lives of fellow human beings, be they pilots, doctors or the PM, but that is another argument.
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 10:39
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At this stage there is no evidence to show why the Captain did not go around. The issue is that punishing this one individual, if indeed he was guilty of some deliberate violation, will lead to an overall reduction in flight safety in the future. This is because reporting systems will be far less effective. It is not just CVRs that are involved, it will include Quick access recorders (FOQA in the US) and many confidential reporting systems worldwide.

As soon as the reporting system is compromised, it loses its effectiveness.

Punishing this pilot for this accident is not worth the price we pay for reduced safety if this prosecution goes ahead using CVR data.
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