Wednesday 15 August 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, New Caledonia
Although it is becoming safer and safer to fly, a general decline in aviation accidents means a much bigger focus on accidents when they do occur. An expectation by the public for 100% safety in the aviation sector, coupled with the demands of the ‘24-hour news cycle’ only serve to intensify this focus.
This was the message given by representatives of the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile (BEA), the French authority responsible for safety investigations into accidents or incidents in civil aviation, when they delivered a training course on this subject to SPC member countries in Noumea, New Caledonia from 6 to 10 August 2012.
The training was financed by the French Ministry of Foreign, the Government of New Caledonia and the French Directorate of Civil Aviation, and SPC played a key supporting role in organising it.
Attendees included representatives from several SPC member countries: Vanuatu, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Niue, Nauru, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Palau, New Caledonia and Cook Islands. Representatives from Australian and New Zealand investigative agencies attended in an observer capacity.
The week-long course provided training in aircraft accident investigation processes and techniques. With lively presentations from BEA instructors Francois Hochart (Head of Investigations Department), Philippe Plantin de Hugues (Adviser on European Affairs and ICAO) and Alain Guilldou (Head of Information and International Affairs Department), the sessions covered both theory and practical case studies.
The training comprehensively covered a range of areas relating to the investigation of aircraft accidents and incidents, including: sea search operations, on-site accident investigation, dealing with next of kin, human factors, black box and data retrieval, interviewing witnesses, and dealing with the media.
Participants indicated that they found the course to be a valuable experience from which they learnt a great deal.
At the official function on Thursday evening, Head of Civil Aviation in New Caledonia Mr Christian Assailly thanked SPC for its involvement in supporting the organisation of the course and noted the opportunities SPC had created enabling countries such as New Caledonia to better engage in regional aviation issues.
For more information, contact Stuart Valentine, Aviation Research Officer, Economic Development Division, SPC, Suva, Fiji (Tel.: +679 337 9329; email:
or visit the SPC website: www.spc.int.
Photo caption: Instructor Alain Guilldou