The Air Accident Investigation Authority (AAIA) is an independent investigation authority responsible for the investigation of civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents in Hong Kong in accordance with the principles of ICAO Annex 13 to the convention on International Civil Aviation – Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation as incorporated in Hong Kong Civil Aviation (Investigation of Accidents) Regulations (Chapter 448B):
The AAIA is an independent Authority formed under the Transport and Logistics Bureau (TLB) in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) requiring Contracting States to establish an independent investigation authority to ensure the independence and impartiality of State safety investigations.
In accordance with the ICAO and international best practice for impartiality during investigations, the objective of civil aviation accident investigations is to identify the causes of the accidents or serious incidents, for the purpose of accident prevention which includes the gathering and analysis of information, the drawing of conclusions, including the determination of causes and/or contributing factors and, when appropriate, the making of safety recommendations through the publication of an investigation Final Report.
The purpose of aviation safety investigations is to improve safety for the travelling public and prevent the reoccurrence of accidents and incidents.
Historically, air accident and incident investigation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was conducted by the Accident Investigation Division of the Civil Aviation Department (CAD). The Director-General of Civil Aviation was also the appointed Chief Inspector of Accidents for conducting investigations in accordance with the Regulations.
Subsequent to the new Standard 3.2 of ICAO Annex 13 States/ Administrations are required to establish an air accident investigation authority that is independent from other aviation authorities/departments and/or entities.
The AAIA will conduct all investigations in line with ICAO requirement that the ‘State of Occurrence shall institute an investigation into the circumstances of the accident and be responsible for the conduct of the investigation’
Hong Kong, being part of China which is one of the 192 Contracting States of ICAO, has an obligation to meet the Standards and requirements set by ICAO on the investigation of civil aviation accidents.
The Hong Kong AAIA is also entitled to participate in the investigations of accidents or serious incidents which occur outside the HKSAR territory as the State of Registry of a Hong Kong aircraft involved in an accident or serious incident. There are numerous other provisions for a State to participate in an investigation, for example where an accident or serious incident involves Hong Kong nationals or the accident occurs in international waters.
Definitions of accident, serious incident and incident can be found in the regulations CAP 448B or ICAO Annex 13/ Chapter 1, Definitions.