The hope at the start of 2021 that the COVID crisis would soon be over, once and for all, soon faded. Further periods of lockdown and enforced working from home were to come and social interaction continued to be restricted, in France and around the world.
Despite an upturn in international civil aviation traffic, the level remained far short of pre-Covid levels. The world commercial air transport safety figures were on a par with those of 2020 with seven fatal accidents resulting in 121 victims, including just one accident to a jet aeroplane (accident to a Boeing 737 that occurred off the coast of Java, resulting in 62 victims). The BEA’s international activity, expressed in number of Accredited Representatives appointed to foreign investigations remained very low, and only one trip was made to an accident site abroad by a team of BEA investigators.
However, the general aviation activity seemed to remain stable in France, due undoubtedly to the fact that the periods of lockdown did not impact the periods of greatest activity, as well as to the fact that the health rules did not dampen the recreational pilots' desire to fly. The number of accidents and victims was therefore comparable with that of previous years.
Overall, the picture for the BEA was very similar to that of 2020, marked by the stable number of investigations opened and the participation in foreign investigations, although lower than in pre-Covid years, and a number of reports published exceeding the number of investigations opened. The mobilisation of agents was not impacted by the difficult context, and their resources freed up by the moderate number of investigations opened, and in particular due to low international activity, meant they were able to finalise older investigations.
As I write these words, the world has been shaken by a new major crisis that has created yet more uncertainty. The war opposes two countries that have recognised investigation organisations and with which the BEA maintains close and long-term relations, in particular because these two countries have a rich aeronautical history. BEA staff have a number of colleagues, sometimes friends, in the Ukrainian and Russian investigation organisations, with whom they used to meet regularly within the context of investigations, as well as at international meetings.
I hope that peace and serenity are restored quickly, that we can soon resume normal relations with our colleagues, and that our objective of improving safety, which may seem vain with so much destruction going on, will make sense once again.
Director of BEA