Home » ASN News
AAIB appointed as Space Accident Investigation Authority for the United Kingdom
29 July 2021

Regulations which have come into force in the United Kingdom see the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) nominated by the Secretary of State for Transport to act as the Space Accident Investigation Authority (SAIA) for the UK.

The Spaceflight Activities (Investigation of Spaceflight Accidents) Regulations 2021 set out that the AAIB, acting as the SAIA, now has the authority to conduct safety investigations when there are spaceflight accidents in or over the UK. Spaceflight launches from the UK are anticipated to commence in 2022.

As is the case with aviation, the AAIB will operate independently of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the UK Space Agency. The purpose of having an independent authority is to avoid any conflicts of interest or external influence in the conduct of an accident investigation. Like the aviation investigations conducted by the AAIB, spaceflight accident investigations will seek to improve spaceflight safety by promoting action to prevent recurrence. They will not apportion blame or liability.

The Regulations set out the powers and duties of the AAIB, its designated inspectors and the investigator-in-charge. They stipulate what actions should be taken in the immediate aftermath of a spaceflight accident to preserve evidence and how any investigation will be carried out. The Regulations also include the duty to produce and publish a safety investigation report making recommendations where appropriate to enhance safety.