Despite the advancement that human beings have made in every field of technology and aviation, disasters are bound to happen. Often these disasters can be predicted; however, some days it is just impossible to fathom what’s about to come. Airplane crashes are one such occurrence. They have been recurrent even in the pandemic where a steep reduction in flights was observed. According to the Guardian there were 40 crashes involving commercial flights in 2020 five of which were extremely fatal causing 299 deaths as compared to the 257 fatalities in 2019 despite the fact that the number of accidents was double i.e. around 86.
People who are now just a part of these statistics used to spend lives just like us and their loss left a lasting impact on a lot of people. This is why a lot of resources are spent on finding out why a plane crashed and who shall be held liable for it. A proper procedure is in place in order to respond to the affectees and possibly recover costs from insurance companies. This investigation and accountability is what will eventually reduce this number.
Here’s how a plane crash investigation works!
1. Immediate aftermath
The first thing after the crash is the accident site where the local police and paramedics arrive to mitigate the loss. Police make sure that any unauthorized personnel and unnecessary crowds are not gathered at the site and the paramedics get involved in the emergency medical care. Depending on the magnitude of the crash it varies from place to place how many people can be saved and who shall be prioritised in the being provided medical services. The fire fighting squads are also involved in this process, whatever can be saved from the wreckage has to be saved in order to ease the later investigation process.
2. Evidence Gathering
The second step in the investigation process is reassembling the wreckage at a near-by site and cordoning off the accident area. The site where the wreckage is re-assembled is usually a nearby open area or a military base. Here multiple investigative teams and national and international investigative agencies start off with an initial examination of the airplane and focus on retrieving the black box and other important equipment which will reveal the important details about what happened right before the accident happened.
While investigations are being conducted on the materials gathered from the plane interviews of the survivors, passengers and the flight crew both are conducted and any witnesses who saw the accident happen are also interviewed at this stage. The plan is to take these interviews as soon as possible because there is a chance that memories may fade and due to the trauma people may not be able to remember the events of the crash appropriately. These interviews are recorded to keep them in record and make use of them at different stages of the investigation.
4. Flight Simulators
Flight simulators are one of the most important parts in ascertaining what happened during the accident; however, there are certain limitations on the use of simulators and how they can be used to find out what happened. The investigators are aware mostly of what the limitations of these simulators are in each circumstance. It will help recreate the aircraft behaviour, certain equipment malfunctions and even runway incursions. A simulation of these things will be a crucial part of understanding what went down right before the crash.
5. Conclusions and Recommendations
Once the teams have conducted their investigations and preliminary reports are prepared it is now time to draw up the possible conclusions and provide a recommendation report to the airline and the national aviation department and other related agencies. The conclusions usually indicate the factors which contributed to the crash, preventative measures that can be taken to prevent future accidentes, long term and short term solutions. This will help the airline give the answers needed to the family members of the deceased.
The key to this investigation is not to panic and make sure that premature and unprocessed information does not get out in the public.