An “accident” is defined as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which, in the case of a manned aircraft, takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until such time as all such persons have disembarked, or in the case of an unmanned aircraft, takes place between the time the aircraft is ready to move with the purpose of flight until such time as it comes to rest at the end of the flight and the primary propulsion system is shut down, in which:

a) a person is fatally or seriously injured as a result of:

  • being in the aircraft, or
  • direct contact with any part of the aircraft, including parts which have become detached from the aircraft, or
  • direct exposure to jet blast, except when the injuries are from natural causes, self-inflicted or inflicted by other persons, or when the injuries are to stowaways hiding outside the areas normally available to the passengers and crew; or

b) the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure which:

  • adversely affects the structural strength, performance or flight characteristics of the aircraft, and
  • would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component, except for engine failure or damage, when the damage is limited to a single engine (including its cowlings or accessories), to propellers, wing tips, antennas, probes, vanes, tires, brakes, wheels, fairings, panels, landing gear doors, windscreens, the aircraft skin (such as small dents or puncture holes), or for minor damages to main rotor blades, tail rotor blades, landing gear, and those resulting from hail or bird strike (including holes in the radome); or

c) the aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible.

A “serious incident” means an incident involving circumstances indicating that there was a high probability of an accident and is associated with the operation of an aircraft.

A “serious injury” means an injury which is sustained by a person in an accident and which:

(a) requires hospitalisation for more than 48 hours, commencing within seven days from the date the injury was received; or

(b) results in a fracture of a bone, excluding simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose; or

(c) involves lacerations which cause severe haemorrhage, nerve, muscle or tendon damage; or

(d) involves injury to an internal organ; or

(e) involves second or third degree burns, or any burns affecting more than 5 per cent of the body surface; or

(f) involves verified exposure to infectious substances or harmful radiation.

aircraft puzzle

Contact the AAIB

Submission of an occurrence report is not required for an accident or serious incident but accidents and serious incidents must be reported to the Air Accident Investigations Branch and the local Director of Civil Aviation informed.

Guidance on the definition of Aircraft Accident and Serious Incident

The AAIB has published guidance on the Definition of Aircraft Accident and Serious Incident on its website.

Submit a report

Use our online reporting system to make a safety, security or wildlife strike report.

Frequently asked questions

Find out more about the reporting process.