The safety record of Civil Aviation in France for 2016 is positive overall, both for commercial air transport and general aviation: no major commercial air transport accidents occurred on French territory, nor were there any for French operators abroad. The statistics for general aviation show a downward trend in the number of victims of accidents and towards levels never before recorded.
In fact, 2016 was notable for three commercial air transport events that occurred abroad, which a large part of our resources for long periods of time: the accident to a Super Puma helicopter in Norway in April, the accident to an Airbus A320 that disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea in May, and the accident to an ATR in Pakistan in December.
The accident to the Egyptair A320, which was flying the Paris CDG-Cairo route, caused 66 fatalities. Our human and financial resources were immediately mobilised to assist the Egyptian authorities responsible for the safety investigation to localize the wreckage. In the first few days, in the context of collaboration between the BEA, the French Navy and the Alseamar company, the wreckage was located. We then participated in the operations directed by the Egyptian authorities, to recover the recorders. These had been damaged at the time of the impact, and were then repaired and then read out by our specialised laboratory. The investigation is still ongoing and we are still waiting for the elements held by the Egyptian authorities, on the basis of which safety lessons can be drawn from this accident.
The BEA has already noted a strong increase in its international activities over the last few years through its participation, as Accredited Representative, in investigations led by foreign organisations that occurred on their territory, specifically to aircraft designed or manufactured in French. This increase accelerated considerably in 2016: this was, of course, linked to the success of the national aeronautical industry which has led to a great increase in the number of these aircraft in the world fleet (there are now far more than 20 000).
On the other hand, 2016 saw a net decrease in the number of investigations undertaken by the BEA on events that occurred in France. This decrease has to be correlated with the good statistics for general aviation: the number of accidents in general - and of fatal accidents in particular – has fallen. The trend is especially notable in relation to microlight activity. The BEA had modified its procedures two years ago in order to allow an investigation to be launched automatically in any case of a fatal microlight accident. This effort will be continued in future years, with the aim of further improving safety.
Finally, I must mention here the publication of two reports on major investigations in 2016: the report on the accident to the Germanwings A320 D-AIPX, that occurred in the Alps in 2015, and the report on the accident to an Swiftair MD83 that occurred in Mali in 2014 (this report was published by the authorities of the Republic of Mali, with a significant contribution from the BEA). These reports were the result of close collaboration between the BEA and all participants in civil aviation and well illustrate the BEA’s motto: « Safety Together ».
I hope that 2017 will, by application of this motto, be the best year possible!