We have been a centre of excellence in the field of accident investigation for almost 40 years. Designed specifically for aircraft accident investigators and those working in related fields, this course will provide you with an academically recognised, high standard qualification.

At a glance

  • Start dateJanuary or May
  • DurationPart-time PgCert - one year, Part-time PgDip - 2 years, Part-time MSc - 3 years
  • DeliveryTaught modules 50%, Individual research project 50%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typePart-time

Who is it for?

The MSc in Safety and Accident Investigation (Air Transport) allows you to receive an internationally recognised qualification in the field of accident investigation. The majority of students join this course with the intention of receiving a qualification that will allow them to further their career development in accident investigation or other safety related areas of the air transport industry.

Why this course?

We have been a centre of excellence for aircraft accident investigation for almost 40 years. In 2011, we were awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our world leading work in aviation safety through research and training in air accident investigation.

An important aspect of this course is the use of hands-on workshops and simulations to develop the practical skills required as an investigator. This is complemented by sessions and modules that enable you to conduct rigorous research and scientific analysis, along with technical writing, investigation and interviewing techniques.

The course format is suitable for professionals based all over the world, as teaching is in modules, and research and assessments can be completed remotely if necessary. Cranfield University is very well located for visiting part-time students from all over the world, and offers a range of library and support facilities to support your studies. This enables students from all over the world to complete this qualification whilst balancing work/life commitments.

Informed by Industry

The Industry Advisory Board for this course is made up of representatives from several organisations who have an interest in safety and accident investigation. The board meets annually to ensure the course content remains relevant and up-to-date. Current members include:

  • Chief Inspector, Air Accidents Investigation Branch
  • Head of Corporate Safety, Cathay Pacific Airways
  • Board Member, Civil Aviation Authority
  • Executive Vice President Safety, Emirates
  • Manager, Air Safety Investigations, Rolls-Royce
  • Director of Flight Safety, Airbus.

Your teaching team

You will be taught by a wide range of experts from across Cranfield University, including members of the Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre. Teaching staff on this course include Professor Graham Braithwaite who heads the Centre. 

In addition, the course draws upon a wide range of external presenters from investigation agencies including the UK Air, Rail and Marine Accident Investigation Branches, the military and investigation agencies abroad.

Course details

The programme commences with attendance on the Aircraft Accident Investigation module, which may be completed as two three-week modules in Fundamentals of Investigation and Applied Aircraft Accident Investigation. 

Upon completion of these core modules, you can then select four optional modules (15 options are currently offered, covering core skills, management, engineering, human factors and specialist techniques). Most optional modules are one week and many are offered as standalone short courses.

Individual project

During year three, you will undertake a supervised research project on a subject of your choice within the aircraft accident investigation field. Building on pioneering work in the area of medical imaging, one of our recent MSc graduates has developed a state-of-the-art technique with his research project ‘Using 3D Computed Tomography in Aircraft Accident Investigation.’

Further examples of recent titles include:

  • Why is it (still) doing that? An exploratory analysis of automation-related aircraft incidents experienced by airline pilots
  • Estimating touchdown descent rate of the CL-605 using FDR data and empirical correlations derived from flight test
  • Risk assessment process for in-service structural related issues: delivering a practical solution.

Assessment

Taught modules 50%, Individual research project 50%

University Disclaimer

Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the core modules and some optional modules affiliated with this programme which ran in the academic year 2016–2017. There is no guarantee that these modules will run for 2017 entry. All modules are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

Core modules

Fundamentals of Investigation

Module Leader
  • Professor Graham Braithwaite
Aim

    To provide accident investigators with the fundamental knowledge and skills to conduct a general transport accident investigation.

Syllabus

    Response

    • The purpose of investigation
    • Notification processes
    • Getting started
    • Group system of investigation
    • Health and safety at the accident site
    • Initial appraisal of land and sea based sites
    • Disaster response
    • Disaster management
    • Competing interests, criminal investigations
    • Recovery of wreckage
    • Wreckage photography

    Evidence

    • Collecting evidence
    • Site survey techniques
    • Systems, engineering and operations investigations
    • High profile investigations
    • Organisational accidents
    • Investigative interviewing
    • Interview techniques
    • Analysis of statements
    • Physical evidence
    • Crashworthiness
    • Structures
    • Material failures and composites
    • Look and record
    • Remote site survey
    • Investigation site simulation

    Human factors

    • The human factor
    • Physiology
    • Psychology
    • Ergonomics
    • Passenger behaviour
    • Investigation support
    • Test capabilities
    • The role of the media
    • Witnesses
    • Accident pathology
    • Recovery and identification of bodies
    • Court procedures for investigators
    • The Coroner’s court

    Analysis

    • Recorders
    • Data recorders (voice/flight data)
    • Analysis of recorders
    • Non-volatile memory
    • Fundamentals of analysis
    • Analytical approaches
    • Applying analysis tools
    • Traps in analysis

    Recommendations

    • A major event
    • Management of large investigations
    • Liaising with victims / families
    • Relatives’ perspective
    • Report writing
    • Relations with the regulator
    • Managing recommendations
    • Multimodal investigations
    • Follow-up actions
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Describe the accident investigation process for a transport accident including elements of preparation, emergency response, evidence collection, analysis and presentation of findings.
  • Work safely under supervision at an accident site.
  • Conduct witness interviews and collect material evidence from a variety of relevant sources.
  • Conduct an analysis of evidence to develop a no-blame report of what occurred and recommendations for future prevention.
  • Work successfully alongside relevant agencies including the police, coroner, media and regulator.

Applied Aircraft Accident Investigation

Module Leader
  • Professor Graham Braithwaite
Aim

    This module builds on the fundamentals of investigation to develop specialist skills for the investigation of aircraft accidents.

Syllabus

    Less complex fixed wing aircraft

    • Impact and flight path assessment
    • The operations investigator’s approach
    • The engineering investigator’s approach
    • Sources of evidence
    • Conduct of the investigation

    More complex fixed wing aircraft

    • Impact and flight path assessment
    • Aircraft structures (metal/composites)
    • The operations investigator’s approach
    • Aircraft performance
    • Crew performance
    • The engineering investigator’s approach
    • Hydraulic systems
    • Electrical systems
    • Landing gear
    • Flight Data Recorders
    • Cockpit Voice Recorders
    • Alternative recorded data
    • Fuel
    • Major case study – B777 BA38 at Heathrow, 2008

    Rotary wing accidents

    • Principles of helicopter flight
    • Investigation approach
    • Human factors in rotary wing accidents
    • Recorder analysis
    • Offshore helicopter accidents

    Air Traffic Control

    • Principles of ATC
    • Use of radio telephony transcripts/recordings
    • Major case study – Mid air collision at Überlingen

    Powerplants and Propulsion

    • Piston engine operations
    • Turbine engine operations
    • Role of manufacturer in investigation
    • Engine teardown on site/at base
    • Bird strikes/FOD
    • Case studies

    Investigating suspected foul play

    • Fires
    • Explosives
    • Sabotage

    Major Investigation simulation

    • Health and safety at the accident site
    • Risk assessment of the accident site
    • Physical examination of wreckage
    • Accident site photography
    • Accident site management
    • Wreckage plotting
    • Witness interviewing
    • Analysis techniques
    • Preparation of recommendations
    • Formal report writing
    • Debriefing

    Investigation management

    • Dealing with other agencies
    • Accredited representatives/technical advisors
    • Participating in an overseas investigation
    • Participating in an NTSB investigation
    • Managing an investigation
    • Managing the politics
    • Managing the news media
    • Cultural aspects
    • Preparing to release an investigation report
    • Ongoing litigation
    • The role of the Investigator in Charge
    • The role of the Chief Inspector
Intended learning outcomes

A key element of the module is a weeklong accident investigation practical simulation where teams of delegates will be given the opportunity to apply and test their newly developed investigative skills in a safe learning environment.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Work safely without supervision at an accident site.
  • Describe common failure types and their symptoms in terms of structures, powerplants and propulsion, sabotage, fire, aircraft systems and human factors.
  • Describe and contrast the differences between the investigation of civil and military; less complex and more complex aircraft, and between fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft accidents.
  • Describe the role of accredited representatives, technical advisors and other interested parties in the accident investigation process.
  • Successfully manage an accident investigation, both on-site and through to the publication and acceptance of recommendations.
  • Collect information / evidence from a variety of electronic, hard copy and witness sources to support investigations and research.
  • Appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists.
  • Communicate effectively, in written form, research work and investigations produced.
  • Take responsibility for research and investigations  produced, including, efficient time management, working to set deadlines and targets, demonstrating self-discipline, creative thinking and critical reflections of their own performance.
  • Collaborate and contribute effectively to group workshops, simulations and assignments, appreciating the contributions made by other team members, especially from different disciplines, national and cultural backgrounds.

Optional 

Aviation Safety Management

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide students with the fundamental knowledge and skills required to manage operational safety within the aviation industry.

Syllabus
    • The fundamentals of a Safety Management System, and introduction to associated guidance material provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and other State safety regulatory bodies
    • Safety data, safety information and analyses; including reporting systems, investigation and Flight Data Monitoring (FDM)
    • Hazard identification and risk management, including an introduction to Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)
    • Safety performance and safety health; including guidance on audits and safety promotion
    • Safety organisations, including guidance on effective management of safety teams.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Describe the fundamental concepts behind Safety Management Systems (SMS), as defined by ICAO, UK CAA, CASA and Transport Canada
  • Select and implement techniques for the identification, quantification and management of hazards and risks
  • Critically assess strategies for developing and enhancing safety culture including the role of leadership, structure and reporting systems
  • Identify techniques for measuring safety performance
  • Collect information from a variety of electronic (Internet) and hard copy sources to support research
  • Appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists.

Failure Analysis of Components

Module Leader
  • Painter, Dr Jonathan J.D.
Aim

    To examine modes of failure in engineering components and to develop the ability to deduce causes of failure from post-failure component examination.

Syllabus
    • Failure modes-ductile, brittle, fatigue, excessive deflection, creep rupture, corrosion, instability etc, loading type, material properties, environmental factors and structural properties governing onset of failure
    • Experimental analysis of failed components - surface inspection, crack inspection techniques, deformation measurement, and residual stress management.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Identify potential failure modes for an engineering component and deduce the loading types, material, environmental and structural properties, which govern the onset of failure
  • Predict brittle, ductile, fatigue and buckling failure loads for a range of engineering components
  • Recognise indicative facets of a failed component from which can be inferred the source of failure
  • Understand examination of failed components, suggest likely causes of failure and suggest strategies for testing out the failure mode hypothesis.

Fires, Explosions and their Investigation

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide an understanding of the science and mechanism of fire initiation and spreading, and the explosion process in condensed and gaseous systems and to give the students an appreciation of techniques used in the forensic investigation of fires and explosions.

Syllabus
    • Fire Initiation
    • Spontaneous ignition and thermal explosion
    • Fire spread in gases
    • Dust explosions
    • Pool fires
    • Anaerobic fires
    • Fire spread in solids
    • Anatomy of a fire
    • Effects of fire on the human
    • Condensed explosives
    • Forensic examination of fires and explosions
    • Consideration of case studies.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Understand the fundamental principles of fire science theory and fire modelling and demonstrate a critical awareness of the limitations of current theories and modelling processes
  • Identify the various physical and mechanical processes and mechanisms leading to the initiation of fire and of explosion
  • Analyse the principles involved in the spread of fire and the development of vapour, dust and condensed explosions
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the forensic techniques used in the examination of suspicious fire and explosive incidents.

Flight Data Monitoring

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide an understanding of Flight Data Monitoring within a commercial organisation and to detail the uses, processes and responsibilities of a successful FDM programme.

Syllabus
    • The history of FDM and an overview of its objectives
    • CAP739, EASA and ICAO regulatory frameworks
    • Integration of FDM within a safety system
    • FDM technology
    • Setting analysis targets
    • Data recovery and analysis tools
    • Principles of data validation and assessment
    • Trace interpretation, with both theoretical and practical sessions
    • Database management
    • The use of statistics in data analysis
    • Animations and visualisation in data presentation
    • FDM in accident and incident investigation
    • The interface between the analyst and crews
    • Legal aspects of FDM data collection, retention and use
    • The use of FDM to justify operational and technical change
    • The potential of FDM within maintenance programmes.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Describe the key elements of an FDM programme and appraise the security and anonymity safeguards of a given FDM programme
  • Critically analyse an FDM event, including evaluating data integrity and present the analysis in an appropriate format
  • Propose and defend an FDM regime for application in their own company.

Human Factors in Aviation Maintenance

Module Leader
  • Dr Simon Place
Aim

    The aim is to give students a broad overview of maintenance human error in the aviation industry and to provide an understanding of the nature and consequence of human error in aviation maintenance, and the current strategies and tools being used to combat it.

Syllabus
    • Regulatory framework
    • Legal requirements. EASA/Part 145 Maintenance Human factors
    • Human error investigation in maintenance
    • The use of reporting systems and how these can be implemented: methods used to assess the nature of errors and reasons under-pinning them and currently used tools such as Boeing’s Maintenance Error
    • Decision Aid (MEDA) and the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System for Maintenance Error (HFACS ME)
    • The nature of the maintenance environment
    • An overall appreciation of the general environment in which humans operate when carrying out maintenance
    • Maintenance management
    • Organisation, line and base maintenance, planning, maintenance control, error management systems, shift handover, blame cycle, communication in the workplace, workplace environment, work/job design
    • Designing for human factors
    • What can be done by the designer to reduce and mitigate future human error
    • Design philosophies and human-centred design.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Describe the regulatory background and the environment within which aviation maintenance takes place
  • Explain methods by which maintenance errors can be usefully investigated, and the current tools being used to do so
  • Define the links between aircraft maintenance and safety
  • Differentiate between maintenance error management systems, why they are required and what tools are in current use
  • Analyse ways in which maintenance errors and the effects of those errors can be reduced at the design stage.

Investigation and Evidence Collection

Module Leader
  • Dr Karl Harrison
Aim

    To understand the core responsibilities of evidence recording and collection at the crime scene, both in general and specifically related to operational constraints of a UK investigative context, and to understand the operation of forensic and police investigators within the context of a major investigation.

Syllabus
    • Construction of the forensic strategy
    • Evidence selection and collection
    • Scene photography
    • Digital photography
    • Sample integrity and contamination issues
    • Assessment of evidence
    • Packaging and transportation
    • Scene reporting
    • Handling intelligence – assessment and communication.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Analyse and evaluate various different strategies of major scene investigation to consider the various effects of different approaches
  • List and define the range of evidence collection and investigation techniques available to the crime scene investigator
  • Describe and evaluate the relative merits of the range of systematic crime scene procedures vital to successful investigations
  • Evaluate which of these procedures are appropriate to a particular crime scene and apply these procedures appropriately during a crime scene exercise
  • Generate a crime scene report which objectively critiques the methodologies used and draws justified conclusions appropriate for the evidence
  • Transfer theoretical and practical knowledge of evidence identification, recording and retrieval into forensic engineering and crime scene investigations.

Legal Skills for Accident Investigators

Module Leader
  • Dunn, Dr Leigh L.M.
Aim

    To provide a comprehensive understanding of the role and responsibilities of transport accident investigators with respect to National and International legislation, International Standards and recommended Practices and other relevant legal processes. Also, the module aims to provide the necessary skills and knowledge for accident investigators to report their findings and present their evidence effectively in reports and in a range of legal inquiries. Transferable skills will include techniques for anticipating and dealing with difficult legal arguments as well as more fundamental principles for the accurate and timely recording of accident investigation findings.

Syllabus

    Standards, recommended practices, legislation and regulation with respect to transport accident investigation

    • International e.g. ICAO, IMO
    • Regional e.g. ERA, EASA, EMSA
    • National e.g. UK, France, USA, Australia
    • Case studies of differences/challenges

    Role and legal responsibilities of the accident investigator

    • Access to accident site
    • Primacy on accident site
    • Rights of participation
    • Collection of evidence
    • Continuity of evidence
    • Evidence or information?
    • Acts of deliberate criminality
    • Dealing with confessions of possible criminality
    • Protected evidence sources e.g. data recorders, interviews
    • Contemporaneous notes
    • Use of final report in legal processes.

    Note taking and Statement writing

    • Best practice in note taking/ logging
    • Key differences between statements and reports
    • Purpose of statements and reports
    • Format
    • Appropriate language
    • Using appendices
    • Using exhibits, photographs, diagrams and plans
    • Following professional guidelines
    • The importance of methodical investigation found or sourced facts
    • How to set out qualifications and experience
    • How to address the needs of the reader of the statements and reports
    • Practical exercises including constructive feedback.

    The Coroner’s Court

    • The Coroners and Justice Act 2009
    • National variations
    • The role and powers of the Coroner
    • Use of a jury
    • Timing of process
    • Conduct of the process
    • Article 2 Human Rights Act 1998 investigations
    • Roles of the accident investigator (witness, advisor etc.)
    • Presentation of evidence to an Inquest by investigator
    • Case studies (Coroner’s perspective / investigator’s perspective).

    Fatal Accident Inquiries

    • Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976
    • The roles and powers of the Sherriff / Procurator Fiscal
    • Differences from Coronial system
    • Presentation of evidence in Inquiry by investigator
    • Case Studies; Chinook crash at Mull of Kintyre, Lockerbie air disaster.

    Military legal processes

    • Service Inquiry
    • Court Martial
    • Case studies (Different services as appropriate).

    Public Inquiries

    • The UK System
    • National variations
    • Triggers for Public Inquiry or Royal Commission
    • Role and powers of Chair/Commissioner
    • Role of Advocates
    • Presentation of evidence in Inquiry by investigator
    • Conduct of the process
    • Case Studies: e.g. Ladbroke Grove rail crash.

    Civil litigation processes

    • Overview of process
    • Discovery of evidence
    • Subpoena process
    • Use of official accident reports
    • Presentation of evidence in court by investigator
    • Protection of witnesses/evidence
    • Case studies.

    Criminal litigation processes

    • Overview of process
    • Burden of proof
    • Discovery of evidence
    • Subpoena process
    • Use of official accident reports
    • Presentation of evidence in court by investigator
    • Effect on accident investigation process / open reporting
    • Corporate manslaughter
    • Case studies.

    Civil & criminal litigation processes

    • How the adversarial and inquisitorial systems work
    • The procedures, order of events and roles of participants
    • How to give clear, honest and objective evidence
    • How to make appropriate use of supporting evidence, documents and notes when giving evidence
    • How to prepare for giving evidence
    • Techniques used by lawyers in cross-examination
    • Coroner’s Courts as a spring-board for litigation
    • Role play of cross examination.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the role of the accident investigator within the international and national legal frameworks and prepare strategies for managing their interaction with
  • Coronial, Fatal Accident Inquiry, Public Inquiry and other relevant legal processes
  • Define the role and responsibilities of the accident investigator as expert witness and demonstrate the ability to assess the best ways to execute this role
  • Compose accident reports which can be used appropriately by parallel investigation processes
  • Present oral evidence in court effectively and critically evaluate the experience
  • Respond effectively to cross-examination and critically evaluate the experience.

Mass Fatality Incidents

Module Leader
Aim

    To introduce the issues facing forensic and management personnel after a mass fatality incident, and the procedures and protocols in place to help the return to normality.

Syllabus
    • Types of mass fatality incident and their implications
    • Natural disasters
    • Man made disasters
    • Acts of terrorism, crime and war
    • Management of a mass fatality incident
    • Roles and responsibilities on the site
    • Techniques for victim identification
    • Humanitarian assistance and management of the bereaved
    • Ethical and social concerns
    • Role and responsibility of the media.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Categorise the different types of mass fatality incidents and confront the different problems and procedures associated with each
  • Describe the UK mass disaster management systems in both national and international incidents and distinguish the responsibilities of the key roles
  • Recognise the requirements of the bereaved and recognise good practice for humanitarian assistance and management
  • Critically assess current methods of disaster victim identification and mortuary practice
  • Accurately complete and reconcile Interpol standardised Ante-Mortem and Post-Mortem forms.

Research Methods and Statistics

Module Leader
  • Nixon, Dr Jim
Aim

    To facilitate the use of basic research methods techniques and fundamentals of statistical analysis.

Syllabus

    Research Methods

    • Qualitative interviewing - approaches, structure, basic qualitative analysis
    • Questionnaire design - including content, phrasing, response formats
    • Survey administration - self completion, interviewer administered, practical considerations
    • Introduction to experimental design - basic designs, maximising experimental variance, experimental control, and minimising error variance
    • Reliability and validity - fundamental to psychological measurements
    • Sampling - including probability and non-probability methods.

    Statistics

    • Descriptive statistics – central tendency and dispersion; levels of measurement
    • Distributions – sampling distributions, sample distribution, normal distribution; Z scores
    • Probability and confidence - Type I and Type II errors; confidence intervals and limits
    • The principles of statistical tests - the power of statistical tests;
    • Parametric statistics - the independent and related t-tests
    • Analysis of variance - partitioning variance; one way and two way independent and repeated ANOVA, mixed and random models
    • Simple correlation
    • Simple and basic multiple regression.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Appraise and select various research methods and statistical techniques in application to different research needs
  • Critically evaluate research from any methodological domain in terms of its suitability and effectiveness
  • Formulate and demonstrate practical application of research methods in the theoretical design of a study
  • Propose and apply analysis and interpretation skills appropriately to a substantial dataset.

Safety Assessment of Aircraft Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr Simon Place
Aim

    To familiarise students with the various approaches to the problems of assessing the safety of increasingly complex aircraft systems.

Syllabus
    • Introduction and Background: Outline of relevant accidents and system design philosophy. Discussion of acceptable accident rates and recent advances in systems. Introduction to probability methods
    • Regulatory Background: Requirements for safety assessment as part of Regulatory Approval and Continued Airworthiness process. The development of requirements for safety assessment, FAR/JAR25-1309
    • Methods and Techniques: Introduction to the more common safety analysis techniques. Influence of human factors. Common mode failures, traps and pitfalls of using safety assessment and examples of mechanical systems and power plants
    • Structural aspects of systems: Structural failure modes that can be experienced by systems. Design approaches to address structural failure. Interaction of systems and structures. Regulatory context
    • Use of safety assessment techniques: Determination of correct architecture of safety critical systems. Fault Tree Analysis, Dependence Diagrams and Boolean algebra for quantification of system reliability. Reliability analysis using Weibull distribution. Zonal safety analysis (ZSA), Particular Risk Analysis (PRA) and Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) of aircraft systems
    • Practical examples of the application of safety assessment techniques: Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL), Safety and Certification of digital systems and safety critical software. Application of Aerospace Recommended Practice (ARP) 4761. Typical safety assessment for a stall warning and identification system
    • Current and future issues: Integrated and modular systems and their certification. Aircraft and Systems crashworthiness. Certification maintenance requirements. Flight-deck ergonomics.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the regulatory background behind the Safety Assessment of Aircraft Systems
  • Choose and apply the technique(s) which is most appropriate for the system under consideration
  • Understand the theory behind each technique, including the strengths and weaknesses of each one, and be aware of possible pitfalls
  • Appreciate the role of safety assessment in the overall context of aircraft certification
  • Understand the issues to be faced for the certification of new systems and aircraft.

Investigating Human Performance

Module Leader
  • Professor Graham Braithwaite
Aim

    To provide investigators with the appropriate skills for the investigation and analysis of human performance aspects of transport accidents.

Syllabus

    Introduction to Human Factors

    • The role of human performance in accidents
    • Objectives of the course
    • Assignment briefing

    Individual Factors

    • Human error
      • Slips
      • Lapses
      • Mistakes
      • Violations
      • Skill-based errors
      • Rule-based errors
      • Knowledge-based errors
    • Human cognition
      • Human performance and limitations
      • Perception
      • Memory
      • Attention and vigilance
      • Information processing
      • Decision making
      • Situational awareness
    • Medical factors
      • Physiology and its effect on performance
      • The role of the pathologist
      • The role of the General Practitioner
      • Ethics of accessing medical information
    • Workload, fatigue and tiredness
      • Tiredness versus fatigue
      • Effects of fatigue
      • Things that look like fatigue but aren’t
      • Building up a valid history
      • Using fatigue assessment tools

    Job/Workplace Factors

    • Evaluating ergonomics
    • Assessing task/workload
    • Interpreting error prediction tools
    • Environmental factors
    • Team Factors
      • Teamwork
      • Communications
      • Leadership/followership
      • Cultural factors

    Organisational and Management Factors

    • Organisational and management influences
      • The role of culture in causation
      • The role of management in causation
      • Measuring safety culture
      • Assessing responses to previous events
      • Case study investigations

    Human Performance Evidence Collection Tools

    • Checklists
      • Commonly used checklists and tools
      • Benefits and limitations
      • Case studies of use

    Analysis of Human Factors

    • Biases and heuristics
    • Ethical issues
    • Interpretation of recorded data
    • Interpretation of witness / interview data
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Outline the key areas of consideration for an accident investigator in terms of human performance in transport operations.
  • Identify suitable techniques for the collection of accurate evidence relating to human performance.
  • Critically assess the effectiveness of contemporary human factors evidence collection and analysis tools.
  • Identify at what point an expert should be approached about the collection or analysis of human performance evidence.
  • Reflect on the quality of the human performance aspects of contemporary accident investigations.

Crisis Management and Business Continuity

Module Leader
  • Mr Rich Moxon
Aim

    To provide knowledge and understanding of the concepts and practice of crisis management and business continuity.

Syllabus
    • Crisis management planning
    • Crisis communications
    • Critical function and risk analysis
    • Business continuity development and strategy
    • Crisis management exercise
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Describe the key elements of a crisis
  • Analyse the importance of effective crisis management
  • Critically evaluate past aviation crisis management
  • Facilitate business continuity planning.

Interviewing Techniques for Accident Investigators

Module Leader
  • Professor Graham Braithwaite
Aim
    The Interviewing for Accident Investigators module is designed to provide delegates with an enhanced level of theoretical and practical skills to effectively interview various types of witness to gather evidence in support of successful safety accident investigations.

    The module adopts a balanced curriculum of theoretical learning and practical sessions involving interviews of live witnesses, with video debriefing, to deliver a practical learning experience supported by the latest academic thinking in investigative interviewing.

    The module is intended to build on the interviewing skills developed during the Fundamentals of Accident Investigation, Applied Aircraft Accident Investigation, Applied Marine Accident Investigation and Applied Rail Accident Investigation modules. However, it can also be attended as a standalone module for delegates who wish to gain an enhanced qualification in investigative interviewing, and would be particularly suited to delegates with previous experience of conducting investigative interviews.

    The module will have an emphasis on interviews forming part of safety (no blame/just culture) investigations of generic transport accidents. However, its content will be equally applicable to accident investigators from other safety critical domains and high reliability organisations, such as healthcare, process industries, and energy utilities.
Syllabus
    Refresher of the fundamentals of investigative interviewing
    • Basic principles of investigative interviewing
    • Basic interviewing models:-
      -Conversation Management
      -Conducting a PEACE interview
    • Use of different questioning techniques – Open v. Closed, Directed, Confirmatory, etc
    • Fundamentals of cognitive interviewing
    • Basic theory of memory and recall.

    Enhanced theory of investigative interviewing
    • Enhanced theory of memory and psychology applied during investigative interviewing.
    • SE3R methodology for managing and recording interviews.
    • Introduction to concept of enhanced cognitive interview techniques, including free recall.
    • Biases and heuristics – investigator and witnesses.
    • Introduction to non-cognitive interview techniques for interviewees who have not directly witnessed the accident.

    Preparation for the interview
    • Assessment of the emotional and psychological state of witnesses
    • Awareness of the characteristics of potentially vulnerable witnesses and the challenges faced when interviewing them
    • Consideration of cultural, religious, social factors that may have an effect on the witness interview
    • Strategies for planning and structuring different types of interviews
    • Identification of the most appropriate interview technique to apply.

    Conducting the interview
    • Management of the initial phases of the interview to build rapport and ensure that all legal and ethical aspects have been considered
    • Implementation of the appropriate interviewing model in accordance with the interview strategy/plan
    • Adopting a meaningful, effective and consistent strategy for summarising and recording witness evidence
    • Introduction to strategies for dealing with challenging/difficult witnesses, including obstructive and inappropriate behaviour
    • Identifying and employing appropriate challenge techniques for any inconsistencies/omissions during an interview.
    • Dealing with other third party attendees at the interview, e.g. legal representatives, trade union representatives, friends/family.
    • Effective interview closure strategies.

    Post-interview phase
    • Recording and summarising of the interview information
    • Strategies for conducting an effective self-critique of the interview process to ensure continuous performance improvement.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the underlying interviewing theories, including memory theory and psychological factors affecting witness recall, and biases and heuristics of both witnesses and investigators
  • Describe and critically assess the most appropriate interview technique(s) to be adopted during an accident safety investigation to ensure the effective gathering of witness evidence, including cognitive/non-cognitive interview techniques
  • Develop an appropriate and effective interview strategy and plan to ensure the efficacy of the interview and optimise the gathering of the available information
  • Conduct an effective witness interview with regard to the selection of the most appropriate interview methodology, the welfare of the witness, the quality of the evidence collected and the accuracy of note taking
  • Develop an awareness of the characteristics of potentially vulnerable witnesses and the challenges faced when interviewing them
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct an effective self-critique of the interview process to ensure continuous performance improvement.

Fundamentals of Material Failures for Accident Investigators

Module Leader
Aim
    The module will allow the delegate to have an understanding of the relevant failure modes, be able to inspect wreckage to understand the most likely failure scenarios, and to be proficient in obtaining and evaluate the work supplied by material forensic specialists. At the end of the module the delegates students will undertake simulated materials investigations and present their findings to the students.
Syllabus
    • Fundamentals: The delegate will gain an understanding of the fundamentals of material behaviour, mode specific design philosophies, and principles related to material failures.
    • Failure modes of metallic materials: The fracture mechanisms, and the resultant visual characteristics will be presented.
    • Failure modes of non-metallic materials: The fracture mechanisms, and the resultant visual characteristics will be presented.
    • The process of strutural investigations: Subject areas presented include the material investigation process; from the wreckage examination in the field to the laboratory investigation, sample removal and transportation, and the use of specialist laboratory equipment.
Intended learning outcomes
  • Describe the failure modes and visual characteristics associated with material failures
  • Inspect a fracture surface to make a judgement on the failure scenario.
  • Evaluate the information supplied from a forensic specialist on a failure scenario.
  • Plan the different aspects of a structural investigation


Introduction to Aircraft Structural Crashworthiness

Module Leader
Aim
    The aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the design of crashworthy aircraft structures and the considerations necessary when designing safe and crashworthy aircraft. The main purpose of crashworthy design is to eliminate injuries and fatalities in mild impacts and minimise them in severe but survivable impacts.
Syllabus
    Overview of Aircraft Crashworthiness
    • Objectives and Approach
    • Regulations
    • Human Tolerance
    Crash Energy Management
    • Structural Collapse
    • Collapse of metallic and composite structural components
    • Component collapse vs. structural collapse
    Introduction to methods for crash analysis
    • Hand calculations
    • Hybrid analysis methods
    • Detailed analysis methods
    Role and capability of testing and simulation in the crashworthiness field
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Outline the main priorities and fundamentals of crashworthiness in aircraft in the context of protection in crash events
  • Define the requirements for structural components used for impact energy absorption and structural collapse in aircraft
  • Describe crashworthiness requirements on major equipment and systems
  • Identify relevant regulations for aircraft crashworthy design
  • Discuss human tolerance in the context of crashworthiness
  • Identify the main experimental and analytical techniques used in design for crashworthiness
  • Apply the systems approach in impact energy management to aircraft design
  • Use simple approximate calculations on the performance of energy absorption components and structures to assess the crashworthiness of an aircraft structure.


Fees and funding

European Union students applying for university places in the 2017 to 2018 academic year and the 2018 to 2019 academic year will still have access to student funding support. Please see the UK Government’s announcement (21 April 2017).

Cranfield University welcomes applications from students from all over the world for our postgraduate programmes. The Home/EU student fees listed continue to apply to EU students.

MSc Part-time £21,000 *
PgDip Part-time £16,000 *
PgCert Part-time £9,750 *
  • * Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or in a maximum of two payments per year; first instalment on receipt of invoice and the second instalment six months later.  

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

MSc Part-time £21,000 *
PgDip Part-time £16,000 *
PgCert Part-time £9,750 *
  • * Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or in a maximum of two payments per year; first instalment on receipt of invoice and the second instalment six months later.  

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

Funding Opportunities

To help students find and secure appropriate funding, we have created a funding finder where you can search for suitable sources of funding by filtering the results to suit your needs. Visit the funding finder.

Postgraduate Loan from Student Finance England
A Postgraduate Loan is now available for UK and EU applicants to help you pay for your Master’s course. You can apply for a loan at GOV.UK

Santander MSc Scholarship
The Santander Scholarship at Cranfield University is worth £5,000 towards tuition fees for full-time master's courses. Check the scholarship page to find out if you are from an eligible Santander Universities programme country.

Chevening Scholarships
Chevening Scholarships are awarded to outstanding emerging leaders to pursue a one-year master’s at Cranfield university. The scholarship includes tuition fees, travel and monthly stipend for Master’s study.

Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS)
The Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS) is a funding programme providing affordable tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time UK/EU students studying technology-based MSc courses.

Commonwealth Scholarships for Developing Countries
Students from developing countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the UK can apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship which includes tuition fees, travel and monthly stipend for Master’s study.

Future Finance Student Loans
Future Finance offer student loans of up to £40,000 that can cover living costs and tuition fees for all student at Cranfield University.

Erasmus+ Student Loans
This new loan scheme for EU students is offered by Future Finance and European Investment Fund and provides smart, flexible loans of up to £9,300.

Entry requirements

The course is primarily aimed at those involved in aircraft accident investigation and other safety related industries. Applicants should have a good UK honours degree (or equivalent) in any discipline, or a recognised lower qualification plus relevant work experience in aviation/safety related areas.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. Our minimum requirements are as follows:

IELTS Academic – 6.5 overall
TOEFL – 92
Pearson PTE Academic – 65
Cambridge English Scale – 180
Cambridge English: Advanced - C
Cambridge English: Proficiency – C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.

Applicants who do not already meet the English language entry requirement for their chosen Cranfield course can apply to attend one of our Presessional English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses. We offer Winter/Spring and Summer programmes each year to offer holders.


Your career

The MSc in Safety and Accident Investigation (Air Transport) allows you to receive an internationally recognised qualification in the field of accident investigation. The majority of students join this course with the intention of receiving a qualification that will allow them to further their career development in accident investigation or other safety related areas of the air transport industry.

Previous students have been employed by dedicated government investigation agencies, airframe and power plant manufacturers, air traffic services, safety regulation, insurers, and the military.

Applying

Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at this time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

Apply now