Air travel is safer than ever, thanks to active safety management and accident investigation. According to 2012 data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), if you were to take a flight every day, odds are you could go more than 13,500 years without an accident.

Safety is the number one priority for the aviation industry. We work with everyone from aircraft manufacturers to air traffic control and government bodies all over the world to manage air safety and accident investigation. We work with partners at every stage from the development of aircraft, through to airline operators, airports and regulatory bodies.

Findings from past accident investigations have resulted in many changes to way the aerospace industry operates; changes which continue to prevent accidents and save lives.

We are actively involved in providing education, training and research for a number of areas related to air safety including:

Human Factors – human error remains one of the main causes of an accident. Pilots, cabin crew, maintenance engineers and airport ground staff are just some of the people who ultimately have a role to play in assuring air safety. Monitoring and assessment of workload and responsibilities is essential for understanding how human error might be prevented. 
Accident Investigation – extensive training for investigators covering all aspects from collecting evidence safely on an accident site, through the critical stages of technical analysis, to the publication of a final report and recommendations.
Safety Management – undertaking research into areas such as helicopter safety, material failures and the development of safety culture.

About our research

Our greatest strength is the ability to combine the academic rigour and long-term perspective of a university with the commercial and business focus of industry.

Our excellence in strategic and applied research has enabled us to make significant contributions to the world around us for over 60 years. We address real life challenges and focus on research that is of strategic and practical importance.

We provide a supportive research community for students and our academic work is regularly published in journal article, book or thesis form.

Working with us

We are able to support industry through the provision of research consultancy services. We can work on both short and long-term projects drawing on a wide range of expertise and resources from across the University. Research and consultancy skills we are able to provide include safety management systems, risk assessment and management, airworthiness, aerodrome and airline safety, accident investigation and human factors. Projects range from expert witness advice to tailor-made training solutions and contract research tasks.

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.

The popularity of our training means we are often invited to provide in-company training at our clients’ sites wherever they are located in the world. We can customise our programmes to specific requirements upon request.

Our impact

We are a major contributor to international aviation safety, building upon our proud heritage in aerospace. Our cabin simulators have been used for ground-breaking research into the influence of aircraft cabin design and cabin crew procedures on the effectiveness of passenger evacuations.

We are a world-leading provider of air accident investigation training and research. Over the last 30 years, we have trained over 1,000 air accident investigators and safety managers for national investigation agencies, the military, airlines, regulators and manufacturers. Past students have gone on to investigate some of the most serious aviation accidents on every continent including most recently, the Qantas Airbus A380 engine failure of late 2010.

Our 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. This is the highest award that can be presented to a UK academic institution in recognition of work which is judged to be of outstanding excellence.

Clients and partners

We work with organisations and government bodies all over the world to manage air safety and accident investigation. We work with partners at every stage from the development of aircraft, through to airline operators, airports and regulatory bodies.


• Airbus
• Boeing
• Raytheon
• Rolls Royce

• Cathay Pacific
• China Airlines
• Emirates
• Thomson Airways
• Virgin Australia

• Belfast City Airport
• Hong Kong International Airport

• Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
• Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)
• European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
• Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department
• Swedish Transportstyrelsen

Accident Investigation Branches
• Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB)
• Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
• Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB)
• Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB)
• Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC)