Remarks by Jim Hall, Acting Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC)

Montreal, Canada
November 21, 2000
 



Good morning, Mr. President, Commission Members, Observers, Ladies and Gentlemen. I appreciate being given this opportunity to speak with you this morning. As you may know, I will be leaving the National Transportation Safety Board some time in the near future, and I wanted to visit with the members of ICAO to thank each of you for your assistance to and support for the Safety Board and your on-going endeavors to improve aviation safety around the world.

My association with ICAO began almost six years ago, when I attended the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Chicago Convention in Illinois in December 1994.

Since then, however, most of my communications with Air Navigation Commission (ANC) have usually been in regards to the unfortunate circumstances of an accident investigation. Over the years, I have appreciated the work done by this committee to make aviation safer. Your efforts have greatly aided the men and women of the Safety Board as they have conducted domestic aviation accident investigations and participated as Accredited Representative and Advisors in investigations conducted by other States.

You have accomplished a great deal:

Before I conclude, I want to briefly mention an issue of growing concern for us all - the increasing criminalization of our aviation accident investigations. We are beginning to see more aggressive law enforcement activity in investigations around the world. I discussed this issue last week with the Bureau Enquetes-Accidents (BEA) Chief, Mr. Paul Arslanian, during his visit to the Safety Board to sign a memorandum of agreement between our two agencies.

I am sure many of you are aware of the various competing investigations currently being conducted into the Concorde accident in Paris. We have also seen this issue arise in Taiwan following the recent Singapore Airlines B-747 accident when the Singapore Airlines Captain, a Malaysian citizen, was not free to leave Taiwan after the air safety investigator's interview. And, we have seen increased law enforcement interest in a number of our investigations, including Valujet flight 592, TWA flight 800, and Alaska Airlines flight 261.

  This trend toward more aggressive criminalization has the potential to affect our accident prevention efforts, limit our access to needed data, and prevent the issuance of critical safety recommendations. Obviously, we will all need to quickly find ways to ensure that both the accident prevention and judicial needs of our society are fulfilled.

The ANC continues to contribute to advances in the technical and operational development of aircraft, our understanding of human factors, communications and navigation systems, air traffic management, and accident investigation techniques. I hope that you will take a leadership role to help resolve this issue as well.

We must all work together to find solutions to this issue. The Safety Board held a 3-day symposium on this issue earlier this year and we are working with the Department of Justice to develop an agreement to protect the interests of both the aviation and judicial communities. I want to encourage the ANC and individual States to also explore solutions to this formidable problem.

Thank you very much for your efforts to make aviation safer and for inviting me here today.