The Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses (BEA), the French air accident investigation body for civil aviation safety is the French authority responsible for Safety Investigations in the civil aviation field. The sole aim of the Safety Investigation is to prevent accidents and incidents. It includes the collection and analysis of information, the presentation of conclusions, including the determination of the causes and/or contributing factors and, where appropriate, the issuing of safety recommendations. Establishing the causes does not imply apportioning blame or administrative, civil or criminal liability. The BEA’s mission is carried out in accordance with European Regulation 996/2010 and separately from any judicial inquiry being carried out on the same accidents and incidents.
Established in 1946, the BEA is attached to the French Ministry of Transport. It has a distinct budget. In order to guarantee the independence of the safety investigation, the BEA can neither receive nor request instructions on the conduct of investigations.
In 2016, the BEA initiated 116 new investigations following accidents or incidents in public transport (commercial aviation), general aviation (leisure aviation, flying schools, private trips) and aerial work that occurred throughout all French departments and territories.
Still in 2016, the BEA represented the French State in 274 new investigations led by a foreign State as representative of the State of design, Manufacture, Registry and/or Operator of all types of aircraft (aeroplanes, helicopters, ULM, balloons etc.).
In addition, the BEA offers technical assistance when a foreign authority calls on its skills, most often in the field of recorder readouts.
To conduct these missions, on 1st January 2016 the BEA had 94 staff, including about 50 investigators. The headquarters of the BEA is at Le Bourget Airport near Paris and it has branches in Toulouse, Aix en Provence, Rennes, Lyon and Bordeaux allowing the BEA to optimize its reactivity in Metropolitan France.