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Air accident investigator

Alternative titles for this job include Air accident engineering inspector, air accident operations inspector, Inspector of air accidents

Air accident investigators search for the causes of accidents and serious incidents, involving civilian aircraft.

Average salary (a year)

£72,500 Starter


£82,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 45 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on call

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Air accident investigator

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly


You'll usually need a degree or postgraduate qualification in engineering or a related subject. Courses include:

  • aerospace engineering
  • aeronautical engineering
  • electrical or electronic engineering
  • mechanical engineering
  • physics
  • mathematics

You may be able to do a postgraduate course in safety and accident investigation, which covers air transport.

Some investigator roles look at the part played by human factors in an incident, and a degree and postgraduate qualification in psychology would be useful for these.

As well as a university qualification, you'll need several years experience of working in aircraft engineering.

A pilot's licence may also be required for some jobs, like an air accident operations inspector.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information

Direct Application

You can apply directly to become an air accident investigator.

If you want to work as an operations inspector, managing an accident response team, you’ll need a pilot’s licence and flying experience.

To be an engineering investigator or flight data recorder inspector, you’ll need a relevant degree or postgraduate qualification and several years’ recent experience in aerospace engineering.

You can also take short courses in accident investigation techniques, which may help broaden your knowledge of the role and skills required.

More Information

Further information

You can find out more about how to become an investigator from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • persistence and determination
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Depending on your role you could:

  • co-ordinate a team to respond to an incident
  • gather and record evidence to build a picture of what happened
  • speak sensitively and tactfully with victims, witnesses and bereaved relatives
  • reassemble or dismantle wreckage to look for clues
  • recover data from flight recorders and instruments
  • use drones to survey accident sites
  • piece together events that led to an accident
  • manage the different stages of an investigation
  • update relatives on progress, especially in fatal accidents
  • write accident reports
  • make safety recommendations to regulators and the industry
  • act as an expert witness at inquests and official inquiries

Working environment

You could work in remote rural areas, in an aircraft hangar, in a laboratory or in an office.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding and you'll travel often.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

If you work as an engineering or flight data recorder investigator, you could become an operations director, co-ordinating the investigation process. You could also progress to chief accident inspector.

You could use your experience to work as a consultant with aerospace manufacturers, safety regulators or aviation industry insurance companies.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for an Air accident investigator right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Engineering (Aerospace Engineering) - BEng Hons Degree (Part-time)

  • Start date: 09 September 2024
  • Location: Blackpool

L2 Aerospace and Aviation Engineering Competence Diploma

  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: Lee On Solent

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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