18 A.F. L. Rev. 33 (1976)
Medical Aspects of Aircraft Accident Boards

handle is hein.journals/airfor18 and id is 259 raw text is: Medical Aspects of Aircraft Accident Boards
CAPTAIN GENE R. BEATY, USAF
AN EMERGING CONCERN of forensic medicine in the Air Force is to
protect the medical portion of the Aircraft accidentsafety investigation
from disclosure to the public. New rules mandating disclosure of
governmental information raise challenging problems regarding per-
sonal privacy and threaten traditionally confidential relationships. As
principal advisor to the collateral board, the staff judge advocate must
understand the application of these disclosure laws to the unique
problems of the medical investigation. This article examines both the
function of the medical investigator and the legal criteria for determin-
ing whether the results of the investigation must be disclosed.
i. ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION
Aircraft accident investigation teams have become increasingly
proficient in discovering the factors that contribute to an accident. Tra-
ditionally, they concentrated on discovering the structural and
mechanical causes of a crash, and, until the late 1950s, gave little atten-
tion to the medical portion.' More recently, sophisticated medical in-
vestigation techniques and tools have improved investigations of medi-
cal and other human factors that contribute to an accident. Conse-
quently, the human factors investigation and the flight surgeon, who
serves as a chief human factors investigator, have assumed increasingly
important roles in accident investigation.
The human factors phase of aircraft accident investigation consists of
1. Armstrong, Fryer, Stewart, and Whittingham, Interpretation of Injuries in tile Comet Air craft Di-
sasters, 268 LANCET 1135, 1143, (1955).
Captain Beaty (B.A., North Texas University; J.D., Southern Methodist University) is cur-
rently Forensic Medicine Advisor to the Aerospace Medical Division, Air Force Systems Com-
mand, and a lecturer at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base,
Texas. He is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Military
Appeals.

Aircraft Accident Boards - 33

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