General aviation

Definition

General aviation includes several activities of a very different nature:

  • Pleasure flying. Practised to a large extent by non-professional pilots in structures such as flying clubs or as the aeroplane owner, this type of general aviation allows everyone to pilot a light aeroplane provided that they have obtained a pilot’s licence on completion of a training course and hold a medical certificate issued by an aviation medical examiner (except for microlights).
  • Instructional flying – flying schools. The purpose of these public or private bodies is to provide training to become professional pilots who will then be employed by airline companies or aerial work companies. These structures can also provide training for non-professional pilots although the latter generally follow a training course in flying clubs.
  • Non-commercial business aviation. This type of aviation applies to aeroplanes belonging to companies or which are hired by a private individual.
  • Aerial work. This covers a certain number of specific activities such as aerial photography, the carrying of external loads by helicopter, towing of banners, crop spraying, etc.

BEA investigation policy

In accordance with Regulation No 996/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation, any civil aviation accident or serious incident which occurs in France is the subject of a safety investigation by the BEA. This obligation applies to all aircraft, except for those listed in Annex 2 of Regulation No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council (the aircraft listed in this Annex are principally aircraft such as microlights, historical aircraft, aircraft built by an amateur, etc.).

In addition to this European regulatory obligation, the current investigation policy of the BEA is to also carry out investigations into accidents to aircraft in Annex 2 when a person has been fatally injured.

Certain general aviation accidents, where there has only been material damage, give rise to investigations which are mainly, even solely based on the pilot’s statement.

Investigation report

Regulation No 996/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council specifies that each safety investigation shall be concluded with a report in a form appropriate to the type and seriousness of the accident or serious incident. At the BEA, the closing of an investigation is marked by the publication of a report which can take two forms:

1) Report corresponding to the format recommended by ICAO: reports of this type have a systematic layout, defined by Annex 13 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation:

- Title

- Synopsis

- Body

1.      Factual information (19 paragraphs maximum)

2.      Analysis

3.      Conclusions

4.      Safety recommendations

- Appendices

2) Simplified report: mainly used for serious incidents in commercial air transport or general aviation accidents, these reports do not contain all the paragraphs of the ICAO recommended format:

- Title

- Body

1.      History of the flight

2.      Additional information

3.      Lessons learned and conclusions

Certain general aviation accidents, where there has only been material damage, give rise to investigations which are mainly, even solely based on the pilot’s statement which is taken down and published on the BEA site.

3) Publication of information about an event: for general aviation accidents where there has only been material damage and the investigation is mainly, even solely based on the pilot’s statement, the aforementioned statement is taken down and published on the BEA site.