|Heeding a call for a much needed teaching text for potential air safety investigators, authors Dick Wood and Bob Sweginnis leaned heavily upon their extensive flight operations and lecturing experience. It is no wonder that the material covered in Aircraft Accident Investigation reflects their background both in the U.S. Air Force, and as past faculty members at the University of Southern California's Institute of Safety and System Management. They dare to write an accident investigation text that describes the real world' Worse yet, they use plain language! What is the accident prevention world coming to?
The strength of this book is immediately obvious from the well-organized Table of Contents, which covers Rules of the Game, Investigative Techniques, Technology, and Analysis, Reports and Investigation Management. Sub-headings similarly provide the reader a convenient descriptive view of topics with which new investigators need to be familiar, from techniques like Accident Photography to hazard areas like Wing Tip Vortex. The Appendices include ISASI's Code of Ethics and Conduct, illustrating the authors' recognition that air safety investigation is not merely a matter of "kicking tin". This precept is also evident in the introduction, among other places, through a succinct discussion of various approaches to the issue of "cause(s)".
Unfortunately, two areas of interest to investigators receive either limited coverage, or none at all and, hopefully, will be addressed more fully in future revisions. The first is Human Factors, which in the current text is heavily weighted toward the medical/physiological end of the human factors investigation spectrum. Investigators need more guidance in the human performance field, with emphasis on an interdisciplinary, time-line approach. The second is a virtual absence of requirements and techniques for investigating safety management and/or safety program management (as distinguished from merely describing recommended programs). Of course, instructive material in those areas are shortcomings of the entire current air safety investigation community; hence the authors do not merit particular criticism for their omissions at this time.
In the final analysis, this new book includes challenges which safety professionals must face to ensure that inquiry leads to prevention action. It also provides a meaningful road map to give new investigators a head start based upon proven lessons of the past. For the old pros, the book is a valuable hedge against faltering memories.