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The human operator, the least reliable element of an aerodyne, but the most essential...!
Frank Caron (1991)

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26 September 2016

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Air safety - Aviation safety international legal definitions

Dangerous goods accident
Dangerous goods incident
Fatal injury
Serious incident
Serious injury

They are the JAA definitions, from a Directive of the European Union Council on November 21, 1994 (94/56/EC), establishing the Fundamental principles governing the investigations into the accidents and the incidents in the civil aviation. This directive takes the bases on the ICAO appendix 13 (International standards and recommended practices aircraft accident and incident investigation) which are adapted to the context of the European Union.

The various events considered and defined by this directive are Accident, Incident and Serious incident. Moreover, it defines the concepts of serious injury and fatal injury.


An occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until such time as all such persons have disembarked, in which:

  1. a person is fatally or seriously injured as a result of:
    • being in the aircraft, or
    • direct contact with any part of the aircraft, including parts which have become detached from the aircraft, or
    • direct exposure to jet blast, except when the injuries are from natural causes, self-inflicted or inflicted by other persons, or when the injuries are to stowaways hiding outside the areas normally available to the passengers and crew; or
  1. the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure which:
    • adversely affects the structural strength, performance or flight characteristics of the aircraft, and
    • would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component, except for engine failure or damage, when the damage is limited to the engine, its cowlings or accessories; or for damage limited to propellers, wing tips, antennas, tyres, brakes, fairing, small dents or puncture holes in the aircraft skin;
  2. the aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible.

Dangerous goods accident [OPS 1.1150 (a) (3)]
An occurrence associated with and related to the transport of dangerous goods which results in fatal or serious injury to a person or major property damage.

Dangerous goods incident [OPS 1.1150 (a) (4)]
An occurrence, other than a dangerous goods accident, associated with and related to the transport of dangerous goods, not necessarily occurring on board an aircraft, which results in injury to a person, property damage, fire, breakage, spillage, leakage of fluid or radiation or other evidence that the integrity of the packaging has not been maintained. Any occurrence relating to the transport of dangerous goods which seriously jeopardises the aircraft or its occupants is also deemed to constitute a dangerous goods incident.

Fatal injury
An injury which is sustained by a person in an accident and which results in his/her death within 30 days of the date of the accident.

An occurrence, other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft which affects or would affect the safety of operation.

Serious incident

An incident involving circumstances indicating that an accident nearly occurred. Typical examples of serious incidents. The list is not exhaustive and only serves as a guide to the definition of 'serious incident'.

  • A near collision requiring an avoidance manoeuvre or when an avoiding manoeuvre would have been appropriate to avoid a collision or an unsafe situation.
  • Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) only marginally avoided.
  • An aborted take-off on a closed or engaged runway, or a take-off from such runway with marginal separation from obstacle(s).
  • A landing or attempted landing on a closed or engaged runway.
  • Gross failure to achieve predicted performance during take-off or initial climb.
  • All fires and smoke in the passenger compartment or in cargo compartments, or engine fires, even though such fires are extinguished with extinguishing agents.
  • Any events which required the emergency use of oxygen by the flight crew.
  • Aircraft structural failure or engine disintegration which is not classified as an accident.
  • Multiple malfunctions of one or more aircraft systems that seriously affect the operation of the aircraft.
  • Any case of flight crew incapacitation in flight.
  • Any fuel state which would require the declaration of an emergency by the pilot.
  • Take-off or landing incidents, such as undershooting, overrunning or running off the side of runways.
  • System failures, weather phenomena, operation outside the approved flight envelope or other occurrences which could have caused difficulties controlling the aircraft.
  • Failure of more than one system in a redundancy system which is mandatory for flight guidance and navigation.

Serious injury

An injury which is sustained by a person in an accident and which:

  1. requires hospitalisation for more than 48 hours, commencing within seven days from the date the injury was received; or
  2. results in a fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose); or
  1. involves lacerations which cause severe haemorrhage, nerve, muscle or tendon damage; or
  2. involves injury to any internal organ; or
  3. involves second or third degree burns, or any burns affecting more than 5% of the body surface; or
  4. involves verified exposure to infectious substances or harmful radiation.

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