Military Accident Investigation Reports

Military Accident Investigation Reports Attorney

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When a military aircraft crashes, there is always at least one accident investigation; if it resulted in death or injury, there is generally more than one investigation, each conducted by the military. At times, a third may be conducted by the NTSB and/or the FAA.

Formal Investigation

It is the usual case that two independent investigations are considered. The first is a formal Aircraft Accident Review Board, the composition of which is determined by regulations of the service involved. Since its purpose is limited to the promotion of aviation safety and often because the equipment and aircraft involved are complex and of a confidential nature, the military customarily refuses to make any disclosure regarding the composition of the Board, the factual findings made, or any report of its findings, opinions and conclusions.

Informal Investigation

A second informal Collateral Board investigation is also prepared. In the Navy, this is made pursuant to the Judge Advocate General Manual and is referred to as the “JAG Report”. Although differing somewhat in format, the Collateral Board Report of JAG investigation generally consists of a letter from an officer appointed to conduct the investigation through his superiors which list the investigator’s findings of fact, his opinions and conclusions and his recommendation.

The purpose of this informal investigation is to determine whether the involved service personnel were in the line of duty, whether their heirs may receive military benefits, whether military discipline should be imposed, and/or whether compensation should be made to non-military personnel injured. Attached to the cover letter are exhibits, including the witnesses’ statements, documentary material and other investigation reports. It is not uncommon for the military to release only the enclosures or exhibits. Occasionally the military will release portions of the investigator’s narrative report, sometimes without editing them.

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