The role of forensic archaeology in the investigation of air crash sites

Paper


Heap, Natasha J. and Kyriakou, Xenia. 2023. "The role of forensic archaeology in the investigation of air crash sites." 11th European Meeting on Forensic Archaeology . Madrid, Spain 28 - 29 Sep 2023
Paper/Presentation Title

The role of forensic archaeology in the investigation of air crash sites

Presentation TypePaper
AuthorsHeap, Natasha J. and Kyriakou, Xenia
Year2023
Web Address (URL) of Conference Proceedingshttps://www.comunidad.madrid/en/servicios/justicia/11th-european-meeting-on-forensic-archaeology
Conference/Event11th European Meeting on Forensic Archaeology
Event Details
11th European Meeting on Forensic Archaeology
Delivery
In person
Event Date
28 to end of 29 Sep 2023
Event Location
Madrid, Spain
Event Venue
IInstitute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences of the Community of Madrid
Event Web Address (URL)
Abstract

The scene of a mass fatality aircraft accident is forensically complex, requiring the coordination of multiple agencies with, at times, conflicting priorities. Whilst standards and protocols exist for the identification of victims, DVI protocols do not include guidelines of systematic field investigation procedures related to forensic archaeology. In 2009 the case of Continental Airlines Flight 3407 was one of the first aircraft accident recovery efforts which employed forensic archaeological protocols (Dirkmaat, 2012).

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) provides Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS) relating to Aircraft Accident Inquiry (1951, Annex 13). However, Annex 13 does not include forensic archaeology advice for best practice in the investigation of accidents. This creates an open-ended challenge for both States and their forensic practitioners, and for the international agencies called in to assist the recovery of aircraft accidents. Further, the results of ICAO’s 2019 –2021 Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program revealed six areas of noncompliance issues in relation to Annex 13 finding that only 41% of States have established autonomous accident investigation authorities, and perhaps more concerningly, more than 65% of States have not developed a comprehensive and detailed training programme for aircraft accident investigators. The audit also reported that existing training programs were often insufficient, with neither recurrent, specialised, or advanced training addressed. The lack of published standards and training programs are contributing factors to shortcomings in current aircraft accident investigations including: the lack of preservation of essential evidence; poor management of investigations; and inadequate investigation reports potentially leading to poor safety recommendations. This paper will discuss the need for a standardised, best practice approach to aircraft accident investigation that is grounded within forensic archaeology. Lastly, each contemporary or historic aviation accident sites is unique and must investigated from within a framework that combines expertise in aviation sciences, forensics, and archaeology.

KeywordsAviation Archaeology Forensic DVI
Article Publishing Charge (APC) FundingResearcher
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440103. Biological (physical) anthropology
430101. Archaeological science
430199. Archaeology not elsewhere classified
Public Notes

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Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Southern Queensland
University of West London, United Kingdom
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