The Investigation Process Research Resource Site
A Pro Bono site with hundreds of resources for Investigation Investigators
Home Page Site Guidance FAQs Old News Site inputs Forums
. . . .. . . . . . . . last updated 3/23/07


to advance the
State-of-the-Art of
investigations, through
investigation process

Research Resources:

Search site for::

Launched Aug 26 1996.




Reviewed by C. 0. Miller (LWO343)

Posted 1 April 97

Aircraft Accident Investigation by Richard H. Wood (MO0598) and Robert W. Sweginnis (MO2O39). Casper, WY; Endeavor Books, 1995. (Tel 307-265-7410) ISBN 0-9629524-3-5. 452 pages, 4 appendices.

Published in ISASI forum 29:2, October 1996
Copyright 1996 by the International Society of Air Safety Investigators
Reproduced by permission of ISASI

Permission to preprint material in this work, without fee, is hereby granted contingent on giving full and appropriate credit to the author and to the International Society of Air Safety Investigators on any reprints. For permission to reproduce and disseminate the material in other forms, please contact ISASI at its Sterling, VA USA office.
ISASI Technology Trading Park Five Export Drive
Sterling VA 20164-4421 USA

Telephone: (703) 43O9668 FAX: (703) 45O1745

Heeding a call for a much needed teaching text for potential air safety investigators, authors Dick Wood and Bob Sweginnis leaned heavily upon their extensive flight operations and lecturing experience. It is no wonder that the material covered in Aircraft Accident Investigation reflects their background both in the U.S. Air Force, and as past faculty members at the University of Southern California's Institute of Safety and System Management. They dare to write an accident investigation text that describes the real world' Worse yet, they use plain language! What is the accident prevention world coming to?

The strength of this book is immediately obvious from the well-organized Table of Contents, which covers Rules of the Game, Investigative Techniques, Technology, and Analysis, Reports and Investigation Management. Sub-headings similarly provide the reader a convenient descriptive view of topics with which new investigators need to be familiar, from techniques like Accident Photography to hazard areas like Wing Tip Vortex. The Appendices include ISASI's Code of Ethics and Conduct, illustrating the authors' recognition that air safety investigation is not merely a matter of "kicking tin". This precept is also evident in the introduction, among other places, through a succinct discussion of various approaches to the issue of "cause(s)".

Unfortunately, two areas of interest to investigators receive either limited coverage, or none at all and, hopefully, will be addressed more fully in future revisions. The first is Human Factors, which in the current text is heavily weighted toward the medical/physiological end of the human factors investigation spectrum. Investigators need more guidance in the human performance field, with emphasis on an interdisciplinary, time-line approach. The second is a virtual absence of requirements and techniques for investigating safety management and/or safety program management (as distinguished from merely describing recommended programs). Of course, instructive material in those areas are shortcomings of the entire current air safety investigation community; hence the authors do not merit particular criticism for their omissions at this time.

In the final analysis, this new book includes challenges which safety professionals must face to ensure that inquiry leads to prevention action. It also provides a meaningful road map to give new investigators a head start based upon proven lessons of the past. For the old pros, the book is a valuable hedge against faltering memories.