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Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre

Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre

The Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre (CSAIC) is a specialist unit within the School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing dedicated to high-quality teaching, research and consultancy in transportation safety management, human factors and incident/accident investigation. The Centre is led by Dr Matthew Greaves.

The Centre’s work was recognised through a 2011 Queen’s Anniversary Prize for world-leading work in aviation safety through research and training in aircraft accident investigation – the highest award that can be presented to a UK academic institution. It was recognized again in 2013 through the Richard Teller Crane Founders Award from the Flight Safety Foundation for its sustained corporate leadership in aviation safety.

  • Our impact and facilities

    Since 2004, the Centre has built upon its strong international reputation for aircraft accident investigation training to develop investigator training that also suits rail and marine accident investigators through its Fundamentals of Accident Investigation and applied Aircraft Accident Investigation courses. These world-first courses were developed in close collaboration with the UK Rail, Marine and Air Accidents Investigation Branches of the Department for Transport and have already trained over 500 investigators.

    In addition to our accident investigation activities, the Centre has trained safety professionals from manufacturers, operators, the military and government agencies from across the world through our programmes in safety management systems (SMS); and crisis management to flight data monitoring (FDM); and safety assessment of aircraft systems.

    We have also launched three innovative part-time postgraduate programmes aimed at those aiming to work, or currently working in transport safety. The Airworthiness MSc is aimed at both military and civil aircraft engineers and is complemented by our Safety and Human Factors in Aviation MSc. Our Safety and Accident Investigation MSc is now available in three streams: air, rail and marine transport.

    Our special relationships with the accident investigation agencies, manufacturers, regulators and operators have helped us to build a range of safety, human factors and accident investigation courses that are second to none.

    Alumni from our courses have investigated accidents on every continent of the world including famous accidents such as the Concorde at Paris, Grayrigg rail crash and MSC Napoli grounding. Our graduates are involved in the design, production, certification and operation of aircraft around the world.

    At CSAIC, we strongly believe that the best way to learn about safety management and accident investigation is through practice. Our courses all benefit from practical activities ranging from mock courtroom and one-on-one interviewing through to full-scale accident simulations.

  • Our people

    • Name: Professor Graham Braithwaite
      Job Title: Head, Transport and Safety Engineering
      Areas of expertise:
      Aerospace, Air Transport Safety and Accident Investigation, Additional Area, Safety, Resilience, Risk and Reliability, Human Factors
    • Name: Dr Wen-Chin Li
      Job Title: Senior Lecturer
      Areas of expertise:
      Aerospace, Aircraft Design, Air Transport Safety and Accident Investigation, Automotive, Ergonomics, human factors and driver safety, Defence and Security, Human Factors for Defence, Defence Training Analysis, Additional Area, Safety, Resilience, Risk and Reliability, Human Factors
    • Name: Dr Jim Nixon
      Job Title: Lecturer
      Areas of expertise:
      Aerospace, Airworthiness, Autonomous Systems, Air Transport Safety and Accident Investigation, Defence and Security, Human Factors for Defence, Counter IED, Additional Area, Human Factors, Systems Engineering
  • Working with us

    A key role for the Centre is in supporting industry through the provision of research consultancy services. We are able to work on both short and longer-term projects and draw on a wide range of resources from within Cranfield and our research partners. We are able to provide research and consultancy skills in the areas of safety management systems, risk assessment and management, airworthiness, aerodrome and airline safety, accident investigation and human factors. We have the capacity to work on projects ranging from expert witness advice to tailor-made training solutions and contract research tasks.

    Our expertise has been used by a wide-range of clients. These have included airlines, manufacturers, regulatory authorities, aerodrome operators, rail operators and air traffic service providers.

  • Current research opportunities

    The Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre offers the opportunity for gifted students to undertake research to the award of an MPhil or PhD. Under the supervision of our experienced staff, you will be able to conduct research in an area relating to safety, human factors or accident investigation on a full- or part-time basis.

    Prospective students are encouraged to contact us to discuss details of their proposed area of study prior to formal application. This will allow us to explore supervision options and assist you in the preparation of a research plan. In the first instance, please contact the appropriate potential supervisor. 

    Recently completed PhD projects include:

    • A multiple criteria decision approach for aviation safety assessment
    • Competencies for transport accident investigators
    • Family assistance within Middle Eastern countries
    • Health and safety at accident sites
    • Maintenance human factors in the helicopter industry
    • The effect of English as a second language on Air Traffic Controllers
    • The economics of safety – a case study of offshore helicopter operations
    • The application of LOSA to line maintenance.
  • Postgraduate degrees

    • Airworthiness

      A part-time masters course which provides a wide-ranging approach to aviation safety by addressing key aspects of aircraft design, construction, operation and maintenance.

    • Safety and Accident Investigation - Air Transport

      This course provides technical knowledge and the opportunity to extend practical experience in the context of accident investigation, primarily in the aviation sector (both civil and military).

    • Safety and Accident Investigation - Marine Transport

      This masters course aims to provide the knowledge and skills to conduct a marine accident investigation in line with the standards of national and European investigation and regulatory organisations.

    • Safety and Accident Investigation - Rail Transport

      This course aims to provide the knowledge and skills to conduct a rail accident investigation in line with the standards of national and European investigation and regulatory organisations.

    • Safety and Human Factors in Aviation

      The programme aims to provide students with an understanding of the human factors and safety issues in design, manufacturing, operations and maintenance throughout the aviation industry.

  • Professional Development (CPD)

    • Fundamentals of Accident Investigation

      12 January - 30 January 2015,
      11 May - 29 May 2015

      A three-week course to develop the key skills and techniques for investigating air, rail and marine transport accidents, including training from experienced investigators, operators and researchers.

    • Aircraft Accident Investigation

      12 January - 20 February 2015,
      11 May - 19 June 2015

      This six-week course is designed for professional aircraft accident investigators and covers a broad range of skills and techniques suitable for the military and civil aviation industry.

    • Air Transport Engineering - Maintenance Operations

      23 February - 27 February 2015

      This one-week short course describes and explains aircraft maintenance philosophies, maintenance management logistics and human factors.

    • Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) and Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) in Commercial Aviation

      23 February - 26 February 2015

      This course provides an advanced understanding of the technical, operational, management and legal issues surrounding a flight data monitoring programme or flight operational quality assurance.

    • Investigating Human Performance

      09 March - 13 March 2015

      A 5-day course designed to provide investigators with the appropriate skills for the investigation and analysis of human performance aspects of transport accidents in aviation, rail or marine.

    • Safety Management Systems in Aviation

      16 March - 20 March 2015

      This one-week course covers the fundamental concepts behind aviation safety management systems and their practical implementation into the air transport environment.

    • Hazards and Evidence Awareness for Air Accident Responders

      08 April - 09 April 2015

      A course designed for anyone who may need to attend an air accident site or provide an emergency response. The course covers hazards risk mitigation strategies and critical evidence awareness.

    • Safety Assessment of Aircraft Systems

      22 June - 26 June 2015

      This course aims to provide you with knowledge of the methods for safety assessment in relation to the design, reliability, safety and certification of aircraft systems.

    • Applied Safety Assessment Workshop

      29 June - 03 July 2015

      A course which gives you an opportunity to gain practical experience in carrying out a comprehensive System Safety Assessment, to prepare attendees for the 'real-world'.

    • Practical Reliability

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This course provides a foundation in the principles and practices of reliability. It also introduces the analysis of data from tests or service records and methods of evaluating systems.

    • Airworthiness Fundamentals

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This short course addresses the key aspects of airworthiness design, construction, maintenance and operation of aircraft across the wide spectrum of technologies met in aerospace.

    • Applied Rail Accident Investigation

      Please enquire for course dates.

      The Applied Rail Accident Investigation course concentrates on applying techniques to the specialised aspects of marine operations and types of accidents.

  • Publications

    • Chen JC, Chi CF & Li WC (2013) The Analysis of Safety Recommendation and Human Error Prevention Strategies in Flight Operations. In: Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics: Applications and Services. Harris D (ed.), Berlin: Springer, p. 75-84.

    • Hsu YL, Li WC & Tang CH (2013) The Use of Eye Tracking in the Study of Airline Cabin Safety Communication. In: Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics: Applications and Services.. Harris D (ed.), Berlin: Springer, p. 134-143.

    • Li WC, Chiu FC, Kuo YS & Wu KJ (2013) The Investigation of Visual Attention and Workload by Experts and Novices in the Cockpit. In: Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics: Applications and Services. Harris D (ed.), Berlin: Springer, p. 167-176.

    • Li WC & Harris D (2013)

      Identifying training deficiencies in military pilots by applying the human factors analysis and classification system

      , International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 19 (1) 3-18.

    • View all publications

  • Case studies and clients

    We work very closely with industry in both our teaching and research. These include:

    National Investigation Agencies

    • Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), UK
    • Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU),Germany
    • Marine Accident Investigation Bureau (MAIB), UK
    • Rail Accident Investigation Bureau (RAIB), UK
    • Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC), New Zealand 


    • Airbus
    • BAE Systems
    • Boeing


    • BP Shipping
    • Emirates
    • Thomson Airways


    • UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
    • European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
    • European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)
    • Civil Aviation Department, Hong Kong (HKCAD)


    • UK Ministry of Defence
    • Airbus Military

    TV and News

    • National Geographic
    • BBC
    • CNN
    • There are currently no case studies listed in this area.