Air Accidents Investigation Branch

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Air Accidents Investigation Branch
Air Accidents Investigation Branch logo.svg
Agency overview
HeadquartersFarnborough House
Farnborough Airport, Rushmoor
Annual budget>£18 million
Agency executive
  • Crispin Orr, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents
Parent departmentDepartment for Transport Edit this at Wikidata

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigates civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents within the United Kingdom, its overseas territories and crown dependencies. It is also the Space Accident Investigation Authority (SAIA) for the United Kingdom. The AAIB is a branch of the Department for Transport and is based in the grounds of Farnborough Airport, Rushmoor, Hampshire.


Aviation accident investigation in the United Kingdom started in 1912,[1] when the Royal Aero Club published a report into a fatal accident at Brooklands Aerodrome, Surrey.[2]

The AAIB was established in 1915 as the Accidents Investigation Branch (AIB) of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Captain G B Cockburn[3] was appointed "Inspector of Accidents" for the RFC, reporting directly to the Director General of Military Aeronautics in the War Office.[4][5]

After the First World War, the Department of Civil Aviation was set up in the Air Ministry and the AIB became part of that department with a remit to investigate both civil and military aviation accidents.[6]

Following the Second World War a Ministry of Civil Aviation was established and in 1946 the AIB was transferred to it, but continued to assist the Royal Air Force with accident investigations - a situation which has continued ever since.

After working under various parent ministries,[citation needed] including the Department of Trade,[7] the AIB moved to the then Department of Transport in 1983 and in November 1987 its name was changed to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).[8] Latterly, the AAIB has become part of the reorganised Department for Transport (DfT)[9] since 2002.


The AAIB has 64 employees.[10]

These are:

  • Chief Inspector of Air Accidents
  • Deputy Chief Inspector of Air Accidents
  • Six teams of inspectors from all disciplines each led by a principal inspector

AAIB Inspectors fall into one of three categories:

  • Operations inspector – must hold a current Airline Transport Pilot Licence with a valid Class I medical certificate. Able to offer appropriate command experience on fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters. Broad-based knowledge of aviation.
  • Engineering inspector – must hold an engineering degree and/or be a Chartered Engineer with a minimum of five years' post qualifications experience. Knowledge and experience of modern aircraft control systems.
  • Flight recorder inspector – degree level in electronics/electrical engineering or an aeronautical engineering related subject and/or is a chartered member of a relevant engineering institute with eight years' experience since qualifying. Knowledge and experience of modern avionics.

There is also a Head of Administration who is supported by two teams, the Inspector Support Unit (ISU) who provide administrative support to the principal inspectors and their teams and the Information Unit (IU), who are the first port of call for accidents being reported.

AAIB administrative staff are part of the Department for Transport (DfT) and are recruited according to civil service guidelines.

Space Accident Investigation Authority[edit]

In 2021, it was announced that the AAIB had been appointed as the Space Accident Investigation Authority for the United Kingdom, in accordance with the Spaceflight Activities (Investigation of Spaceflight Accidents) Regulations 2021. Independent of the UK Space Agency, it will investigate spaceflight accidents that occur in or over the United Kingdom.[11]


The AAIB conducts investigations defined under one of two categories; "Accident" or "Serious Incident". An "Accident" occurs where a person suffers a fatal or serious injury, the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure which adversely affects its performance, or where the aircraft is missing or inaccessible. A "Serious Incident" means an incident where an accident nearly occurred.

The AAIB is responsible for the investigation of civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents within the UK and its overseas territories.[9] These are Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands.[12]

They are also involved in overseas investigations in other countries when the accident or incident involves a British-registered or British-built aircraft or UK airline, or where their involvement is specifically requested by the investigating host nation.[13]


AAIB head office
Sign leading to the entrance of Farnborough House, the AAIB head office

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has its head office in Farnborough House,[14] a building that is a part of a compound within the boundary of Farnborough Airport,[15] located between Aldershot[14][16] and Farnborough,[17] within the borough of Rushmoor.[18] The approximately 1.75-hectare (4.3-acre) head office site, which houses three large buildings and car park facilities,[19] is in a lightly wooded area south of the main runway of Farnborough Airport.[20] The buildings at the AAIB site include an (as of 2005) L-shaped, two-storey flat roof office building and a hangar.[15] The original buildings were from the 1970s. Lana Design supervised the construction of a 4,700-square-metre (51,000 sq ft) two-storey new addition to the main building. It includes offices, acoustic laboratories and a lecture theatre. The addition had a cost of 2.6 million pounds.[21]

The AAIB site is south of the airfield and east of the Puckeridge Ammunition Depot,[19] and it is located near the Basingstoke Canal.[22] Cove Brook, about 150 metres (500 ft) south of the AAIB head office, runs from the south to the north. The AAIB head office is accessible from Berkshire Copse Road, which dissects through the length of the AAIB head office site.[19] The Borough of Rushmoor stated that the AAIB complex "requires a secluded" and "secure" location due to "the nature of its operation."[23]

Previously the AAIB head office was in Shell Mex House on the Strand in the City of Westminster, London.[24]

See also[edit]

Other United Kingdom accident investigation bodies


  1. ^ Hradecky, Simon (8 June 2012). "United Kingdom's Air Accident Investigation Board celebrates 100 years of air accident investigation". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Brooklands accident". Flight. No. 8 June 1912. p. 513. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  3. ^ The London Gazette, 27 October 1916
  4. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 7 January 1918
  5. ^ Turner, Charles Cyril (1927). The Old Flying Days. Arno Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-405-03783-2.
  6. ^ Route to Egypt Losses Enquiry, Hansard, 30 October 1919 vol 120 cc914-5W
  7. ^ "Turkish Airlines DC-10 TC-JAV Report on the accident in the Ermenonville Forest, France on 3 March 1974." (Archive) Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved on 29 April 2012.
  8. ^ "About us". GOV.UK. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Welcome to the Website of the AAIB". AAIB. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  10. ^ "AAIB Organisation" (PDF). Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  11. ^ "Air Accidents Investigation Branch appointed as Space Accident Investigation Authority for the United Kingdom". UK Government. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  12. ^ "Aircraft Accident Investigation in the UK Overseas Territories" (PDF). Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  13. ^ Note, under ICAO regulations the relevant investigating authority of the country or territory in-which an accident occurs is usually responsible for the subsequent investigation.
  14. ^ a b "Additional information." Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved on 2 May 2010. "Air Accidents Investigation Branch Farnborough House Berkshire Copse Road Aldershot Hampshire GU11 2HH"
  15. ^ a b "DIRECTORATE OF ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES REPORT NO.PLN0548 SECTION C." Rushmoor Borough Council. 20 July 2005. Retrieved on 19 October 2010. "The site is to the north of the Basingstoke Canal and comprises a separate compound within the Farnborough Airport boundary, adjoining its southern end. The land is occupied by a number of structures including a large hangar and a two-storey flat roofed office building with an L-shaped footprint, together with areas of hard surfacing, used by the Department of Transport's Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB)."
  16. ^ "Department for Transport travel plan: Annexes." Department for Transport. Retrieved on 19 October 2010. "They are based at Farnborough House, Berkshire CopseRoad, Aldershot, Hants."
  17. ^ "The AAIB interim report." BBC News. Friday 24 December 1999. Retrieved on 30 September 2010. "The cockpit voice recorder was recovered from the wreckage and was successfully replayed at the AAIB headquarters at Farnborough."
  18. ^ "Appendix B: Rushmoor Borough Maps" (PDF). Rushmoor Borough Council. p. 2/11. Retrieved 4 September 2022. - The map shows Farnborough Airport in the boundaries.
  19. ^ a b c "Key sites background document Archived 13 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine." Rushmoor Borough Council. 16 (18/24). Retrieved on 30 September 2010.
  20. ^ "Rushmoor Local Plan Review (1996-2011) Archived 27 September 2011 at the UK Government Web Archive." Rushmoor Borough Council. 126 (2/39). Retrieved on 30 September 2010.
  21. ^ "air accident investigation branch (aaib)." (Archive) Lana Design. Retrieved on 19 September 2012.
  22. ^ "Rushmoor Local Plan Review (1996-2011) Archived 27 September 2011 at the UK Government Web Archive." Rushmoor Borough Council. 156 (32/39). Retrieved on 30 September 2010.
  23. ^ "REPORT NO.PLN0465 SECTION C Archived 13 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine." Borough of Rushmoor. 20 October 2004. 33 (2/6). Retrieved on 30 September 2010.
  24. ^ Final report (Archive) Swiss Federal Department of Transport and Power - Translated by the Department of Trade Accidents Investigation Branch. p. 3. Retrieved on 12 May 2012. "Accidents Investigation Branch Department of Trade Shell Mex House Strand, London WC2R 0DP"

External links[edit]