Areas of expertise

  • Air Transport Safety & Investigation


Abdulwahd Abushalla (Abdul) joined the Safety and Accident Investigation Centre in April 2016 as a technician looking after the Accident Investigation Laboratory and assisting in the practical sessions related to the accident investigation courses run by the centre. He obtained a postgraduate certificate in Safety and Accident Investigation from Cranfield University in 2007. He holds a Master's in Aeronautical Engineering from Tripoli University, Libya.

After graduating, he worked as Engineer/Inspector within the Civil Aviation Authority of Libya. He was able to lead the Airworthiness Department. Then he was appointed as State Safety Programme Director, the position which he held until he left to commence his PhD study at Cranfield University.

He participated in many accidents and incidents investigation, including major accidents for Airbus A330 operated by a local operator in Libya, where he had the chance to work with BEA France, DSB Netherland, and NTSB USA. He recently obtained his PhD from Cranfield University and started his full-time role as Research / Teaching Fellow in Aircraft Accident Investigation. He is acting as the Nominated Safety Manager NSM for the SHEL 42 area that covers the Accident Investigation Lab and its activities, in addition to being the lab manager. Currently, Abdul is a lecturer in Air Safety Investigation and acting as Module Leader for some of the centre courses.

During his work in Cranfield, Abdul was able to develop the Accident Investigation Lab and proved his ability to work independently to manage this area. His roles are growing up, and his plans to assist the team by participating in teaching in the centre courses are going ahead.

Research opportunities

Abdul conducted his PhD research under a title "Developing the capability of Air Accident Investigation". The focus of his research was mainly to investigate the case of less-developed States and to try to figure out the best way of developing their Accident Investigation Authority (AIA) capability.

This study explores the concept of capability in the context of a 'not-for-blame' State-level aircraft accident investigation function. It achieves this through a systematic literature review, followed by interviews and a survey with experienced investigators. The output is a proposed eight-dimension framework to guide less-developed States to establish their AIA and develop its capability.

The results of the research demonstrate that investigation is a cooperative activity depending on multi-scale collaboration by all involved States. In turn, this requires international assistance to obtain appropriate expertise and achieve the required level of quality. Emphasising the independence of the AIA in local legislation and regulations and ensuring effective separation of the investigation process from any administration and/or judicial proceedings were the most notable factors apart from the organisation model. The research provides insights by generating guidance to develop the capability of the AIA. The achievement includes a maturity model to show the evolution of the AIA over three different stages, defined as initial, established and optimised, to help prioritise actions.