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Jeff_Wilkinson

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 #1 
I had a question come to me recently regarding the different types of accident reports produced by the USAF. I had thought about writing an article here if you would find it useful, so I'll reproduce the email:

Quote:
I was considering writing an article for the wreckchasing board on just this very subject (may be a good topic for the next convention....)! I can easily talk about this for a while, so I'll try to stick to a Cliff's Notes version:

Ms. Wharton is correct. The AIB reports are retained at the Major Command (MAJCOM) (e.g., Air Combat Command, Air Force Global Strike Command) for a period of three years before going the National Records Center. Unless there is a compelling interest (i.e., historically significant mishap), the reports are destroyed 25 years from the date of the mishap. With few exceptions, only those reports published for 1986 and later would still be available. To its credit, the AF has been making the executive summaries of AIB reports available on the web at: http://usaf.aib.law.af.mil/ Additionally, some of the MAJCOMs have been making the full AIB report (and supporting material) available on their own public websites. ACC, for instance, has the B-2 crash on Guam featured on its page at http://www.acc.af.mil/media/index.asp to include video and animation of the mishap sequence.

So what's the difference between the reports?

When you order a report from the AF Safety Center at Kirtland AFB, NM (1956 and later reports), you are receiving the report of the Safety Investigation Board (SIB). The SIB is governed by Air Force Instruction (AFI) 91-204 and is convened to investigate mishaps involving AF personnel and property. The primary focus is on accident prevention...the goal is to determine what happened, and how to prevent the mishap from happening again. What makes the post-1956 reports special is that they are in two parts. The part you receive (Part 1, tabs A to S) is factual in nature, and may contain witness statements not given under privilege, teardown reports, drawings, and photographs. Part 1 is releasable to the public, and is also provided to the AIB (if convened). Part 2 (Tabs T to W) contain privileged witness statements, For Official Use Only (FOUO) information, and the conclusions and recommendations of the SIB. Tab 2 is not releasable to the public, nor do I believe it ever will be. The stance of the AF is that the privileged witness statements are given under a blanket of confidentiality, and this promise does not expire. If witnesses gave testimony under privilege, and this testimony later (even much later) becomes public, it would compromise the ability to gather safety information. A Supreme Court decision from 1986 ruled that safety privilege trumps FOIA.

What you see when you read a newspaper article regarding a crash is information from the Accident Investigation Board (AIB). The AIB is governed by AFI 51-503, and is usually convened by the same person (MAJCOM Commander or his designee) who convened the SIB. The AIB is an investigation from a legal standpoint...the goal is to determine what happened, prepare a report that is fully releasable, brief next-of-kin of members killed in the mishap (or those who survived and were seriously injured), and determine if a liability exists or if adverse action needs to be taken. Since the report is intended for public consumption, a FOIA request isn't necessary, though it may be an easy vehicle to do so. Otherwise a letter to the MAJCOMs Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) should suffice.

While a SIB might be convened for several classes of mishaps, the AIB is usually convened only when a Class A mishap occurs (property damage of $2 Million or more, fatality or total permanent disability, or loss of an aircraft). AIBs are optional for other mishap classes, and may not be convened in all Class As (for instance, if only government property is damaged).

Yep, Cliff took a bunch of notes....


I hope you all can find this useful.

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Jeff Wilkinson
Oklahoma Wreckchasing
http://okwreckchasing.org
DaveTrojan

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 #2 
Thanks, what you wrote is logical.
DaveT
locobuster

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 #3 
Sorry to resurrect an old thread but I am curious if the USAF has always mandated both investigations for accidents involving fatalities and, if not, when was this enacted? 

Also, would the Safety Investigation Board for a crash that occurred in 1951 have come from Norton AFB, California?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Syd
DaveTrojan

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 #4 
"would the Safety Investigation Board for a crash that occurred in 1951 have come from Norton AFB, California?"

If The accident occurred at or near Norton or the aircraft was assigned to Norton then the investigation may have been conducted by personnel from Norton. Usually the command the aircraft is assigned to is responsible for the accident investigation. Regardless all completed investigations from 1955 and earlier are now on file at the Air Force Historical Angency located at Maxwell AFB AL

All 1956 and newer are at Kirkland.  
DaveT
locobuster

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 #5 
Thanks for the response, Dave!

I have the 230+ page accident report from the accident I am researching. In fact, it is what prompted my question as it contains what appears to be the findings from two different investigations (see attached images). I am curious as to whether this was standard procedure at the time or, because of the high number of fatalities (21) involved, a second (concurrent) investigation may have been ordered.  
 
The accident occurred in 1951 near Charleston, WV and the Aircraft Accident Board was mainly comprised of personnel from Wright-Patterson AFB (and one man from the aircraft's home unit), however the report also contains a "Report of Special Investigation" which appears to have come from a completely separate proceeding. This pretty much correspond to the AIB / SIB format mentioned at the start of this thread as the accident board was concerned with finding the potential cause of the accident and the special investigation seemed to concentrate on tracking down the links in the chain of events leading to the crash, the prevention of future such occurrences, and the assessment of the various personnel involved. 


A newspaper article concerning the crash mentions a team of investigators arriving from Wright-Patterson the day of the crash and a second team from San Bernardino due to arrive the next day so I assumed the investigators must have come from Norton and the special investigation board was likely held there as well?

The "Report of Special Investigation" does not list any specific command anywhere and I have been unable to find anything concerning the ten men who are listed at the end of the report other than the following notations: AFCFS-2D (two members), AFCFS-2C (one member), AFCFS-2F (two members), AFCFS-2A (two members), AFCTI-6A (one member), AFCFS-1B (one member), and AFCDT-A (one member). Anyone have a clue about these abbreviations?

I appreciate your help!

Syd 

accident investigation.png 
"Aircraft Accident Board" front page 

 
special investigation.png

"Special Investigation" front page.

special board members.png 

Members of the Special Investigation board.




locobuster

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 #6 
I think I might have found an answer, according to a fact sheet on the Air Force Safety Center's website:

"After the Air Force became a separate department, the Air Force Chief of Staff designated the Office of the Inspector General to oversee all inspection and safety functions. These functions were consolidated in an inspector general group at Norton AFB, Calif., in the 1950s."

This makes sense as there is a report concerning non compliance with technical orders from The Inspector General USAF, Office of Deputy Inspector General, Technical Inspection and Flight Safety Research, Norton AFB, California included in the accident report. 

I am still curious if the regulations mandating two separate boards for crashes w/ fatalities / loss of aircraft were in effect in 1951. Anyone have a clue where I could look for this information?

I appreciate your help.

Syd


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