August 30, 1971

Fatal Civil Aircraft Accidents: Their Medical and Pathological Investigation

Author Affiliations

Ohio State University Columbus


by Peter J. Stevens, 206 pp, with illus, $16.75, Bristol: John Wright & Sons Ltd. (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Co.), 1970.

JAMA. 1971;217(9):1248. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190090070029

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Prepared originally as an MD thesis, this book summarizes the author's studies during eight years as chief of the Royal Air Force Aviation Pathology Unit (which provides medical support for all fatal aircraft accident investigations in Great Britain). Dr. Stevens has chosen to discuss accidents occurring in public transport, general aviation, and gliding (soaring) separately. He follows these sections with an excellent discussion of the fatal airliner accident as an example of mass disaster. In the latter section, identification of bodies is discussed at length. The bibliography includes 389 references.

In his case studies, which comprise a major part of the text, Dr. Stevens has been careful to draw a clear line between medical findings probably incidental to accidents and those which may fairly be considered as contributing to accidents. While the number of accidents covered is small (24 airline, 42 light aircraft, and 14 glider), the very careful investigations