2015 was marked in public transport by the accident to a Germanwings A320 on 24 March in the Alpes de Haute Provence, claiming 150 lives, of which 6 were crew members and 144 were
passengers. This aviation disaster mobilised much of the BEA's resources for several months. The safety investigation involved, alongside BEA investigators, the investigation authorities from other countries: Germany, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom. In addition, there were a large number of technical advisors and experts, not only from the field of aviation, but also from fields such as psychiatric medicine, rail transport and electrical power. The final report was published in March 2016.
Regarding public transport, one should also note the publication of the investigation report on the accident to a Hermès Airlines A321, which occurred at Lyon Saint Exupéry on 29 March 2013. This accident claimed no lives but brought to light a certain number of safety messages, which led to 9 recommendations being issued. Furthermore the safety investigation continued into the accident to the Swiftair MD83, on 24 July 2014 in Mali, conducted by the authorities of the Republic of Mali, with a significant contribution from the BEA, and the final report was published in April 2016.
As regards general aviation, the BEA has implemented a new policy that responds to expectations expressed by numerous organisations, including user federations. It is intended to prioritise handling of the most serious events, which are the most instructive, without distinction for the status of the aircraft. Thus, the investigative procedures for minor accidents (mainly damage-only accidents), have been simplified to allow resources to be freed up for investigations into fatal accidents, whether they are accidents to certified aircraft (aeroplanes, helicopters, etc.) or non-certified aircraft (microlights, autogyros, etc).
Though the statistics for general aviation accidents in 2015 show a relative stability in the number of fatal accidents in certified aviation, they indicate an increasing number of fatal microlight accidents, two to three times as many as for certified aviation. This confirms the need to focus on these accidents. However, it is noteworthy that the investigations into the events that occurred in 2015 are not all closed: a first review of the new policy should be completed by the time the next annual report comes out.
Lastly, as in previous years, the BEA's extensive work as Accredited Representative to foreign safety investigation authorities should be noted. The number of investigations in which the BEA participates abroad is much higher than the number of investigations initiated by the BEA. This activity, linked in particular with the considerable and increasing proportion of French-designed aircraft in the world's fleets, therefore mobilises a considerable share of the BEA's resources. It places the BEA in a privileged position to observe safety issues on a global scale. The challenge is then to make its observations as widely known as possible. The new BEA website should contribute to this.