When a significant air disaster occurs, a number of local, state and federal agencies swing into action.
The Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act (ADFAA) helps to coordinate various responses to any crash that involves significant passenger injuries and fatalities.
About the ADFAA
The federal government enacted the ADFAA in 1996 with input from families affected by commercial airline crashes. The Act assigns responsibilities to certain federal agencies and guides their response in working with the families of those who died or were injured in an airliner disaster.
When an air disaster occurs, the National Transportation Safety Board will notify the appropriate entities, including the Department of State (DOS), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross.
Provisions of the Act
Some of the provisions of the ADFAA include:
– the NTSB will designate a family support services director to act as a liaison between the air carrier, the government and families coping with an air disaster
– the NTSB will also designate a nonprofit to take responsibility for coordinating emotional and mental healthcare for family members
– the air carrier will provide a family with access to the crash site and accommodations nearby
– the NTSB will brief family members about the crash investigation before giving any public briefings
Attorney and air carrier responsibilities
It is the responsibility of the air carrier to notify families and provide them with support after an air disaster. According to ADFAA terms, an attorney cannot make unsolicited contact with family members before the 45th day following the airliner crash. However, the family may seek legal guidance whenever they feel ready to do so.