21/8/98


International Civil Aviation Organization
ASSEMBLY - 32ND SESSION
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Agenda Item 18: Shortcomings and deficiencies in the air navigation field

IMPROVING ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS AND THEIR FAMILIES
INVOLVED IN CIVIL AVIATION ACCIDENTS

(Presented by the United States of America)


SUMMARY

This paper expresses the need for the development and adoption of Standards and Recommended Practices and guidance material for the proper treatment of victims and their families by Member States, and their air carriers, in the immediate aftermath of a civil aviation accident.

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 The Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 gives the National Transportation Safety Board coordinating responsibility to integrate United States government resources in support of air carrier and local and state efforts to meet the needs of aviation disaster victims and their families. The Act further requires U.S. carriers to file a family assistance plan with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board, consistent with the requirements in the Act, as to how the air carrier will assist families in the event of an aviation disaster.

1.2 The Foreign Air Carrier Family Support Act of 1997 requires foreign air carriers licensed by the United States Government operating to and from the United States or its territories to file with the federal government a family support plan similar to those required of U.S. air carriers under the 1996 Act.

1.3 There currently are no ICAO Standards or Recommended Practices that deal comprehensively with the needs of victims of aircraft accidents and their family members.

2. DISCUSSION

2.1 The volume of international civil aviation passenger travel will increase due to the rise in international business and pleasure travelers as well as an anticipated increase in aircraft passenger capacity. The expected rate of increase in international air travel, combined with the relatively unchanged accident rate, may lead to an increase in the number of accidents annually.

2.2 Victims of civil aviation accidents, as well as their family members, often express universal, fundamental human needs and emotions in the aftermath of an accident.

2.3 Public attention will continue to be focused on virtually every sizable civil aviation crash, with interest not only in the cause of the accident, but also in the treatment of those affected by it.

3. CONCLUSION

3.1 ICAO and its Contracting States should reaffirm their commitment to support the emotional and physical well-being of victims of civil aviation accidents and their family members.

3.2 ICAO and its Contracting States should fully address the universal needs among family members of civil aviation accident victims to be promptly notified of their family members' involvement in an accident; to have timely and accurate recovery and identification of the victims; to have the victims' personal effects collected and returned; and to receive at appropriate times accurate information regarding all aspects of the accident. ICAO and its Contracting States recognize that the air carrier involved is often best situated to assist families in the immediate aftermath of a civil aviation accident.

3.3 ICAO and its Contracting States should take prompt action to develop appropriate guidance material, which could include Standards and Recommended Practices, that improve plans and procedures to support civil aviation accident victims and their families.

3.4 ICAO and its Contracting States should cooperate in the development and implementation of an international program to support civil aviation accident victims and their families.

4. ACTION BY THE ASSEMBLY

4.1 The Assembly should consider the proposed resolution provided in the Appendix, which is based on the logic of this Working Paper and proposes timely action by ICAO and Member States.

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A-1

Appendix A

APPENDIX A

DRAFT ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION


A32-- : Improving Assistance to Families of Victims Involved in Civil Aviation Accidents



Whereas the policy of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) should be to ensure that the mental, physical and spiritual well being of victims involved in civil aviation accidents and their families are considered and accommodated by ICAO and its Contracting States;

Whereas it is essential that ICAO and its Contracting States recognize the importance of timely notification of family members of victims involved in civil aviation accidents; the prompt recovery and accurate identification of victims; the return of the victims' personal effects; and the dissemination of accurate information to family members;

Whereas it is essential that support be provided to family members of victims of civil aviation accidents, wherever the accident may occur, and any lessons learned from support providers, including effective procedures and policies, be promptly disseminated to other Contracting States and ICAO to improve States' family support operations;

Recognizing that the volume of air transport operations is expected to increase significantly in coming years with more international business and pleasure passengers;

Recognizing that, combined with the expected increase in operations, the relatively unchanged trend in the accident rate over the past several years might lead to an increase in the number of accidents per year;

Recognizing that air transport is expected to carry larger passenger loads;

Recognizing that the air carrier involved in an civil aviation accident is often best situated to assist families in the immediate aftermath of the accident;

Noting that family members of victims of a civil aviation accident, regardless of national origin, express certain fundamental human needs and emotions;

Recognizing that public attention will continue to focus on States' investigative actions as well as the human interest aspects of a civil aviation accident;

The Assembly:

1. Calls on ICAO and Contracting States to reaffirm their commitment to support victims of civil aviation accidents and their family members;

2. Urges ICAO to provide support for the development of appropriate guidance materials which could include Standards and Recommended Practices, citing the need for the establishment of a program by Contracting States and their air carriers to support victims of civil aviation accidents and their family members;

3. Urges Contracting States to promptly review, address, and improve plans and procedures to support victims of civil aviation accidents and their family members; and

4. Urges Contracting States to co-operate with ICAO and other States in the development and implementation of a program to support victims of civil aviation accidents and their family members.

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Remarks by Chairman Hall at ICAO Assembly