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Citizens living under a flight path or near an airport have the right to expect it to be safe. The government plays an important role in ensuring the safety of these citizens. Yet sometimes things go wrong, jeopardizing the safety of citizens. This is what happened on Saturday 20 February 2021, when a Boeing 747 cargo aircraft took off from Maastricht Aachen Airport. Just after takeoff, the aircraft lost parts of an engine due to an engine failure. The engine debris came down in the village of Meerssen, injuring two people and causing damage to several houses and cars.

Understandably, residents of Meerssen and other villages around Maastricht Aachen Airport felt much less safe after this serious incident. The Dutch Safety Board investigated this occurrence and published an investigation report last April. The report included an investigation of the risks of departing falling debris for people on the ground near the airport. The Dutch Safety Board concluded that the magnitude of this risk has not been determined and that an accurate assessment of the risk for residential areas around Maastricht Aachen Airport has not been carried out. The Dutch Safety Board consequently recommended that the government investigate this and, based on the findings, determine the magnitude of the risk for local residents. Additionally, it should inform the citizens involved about the results of their investigation. By thoroughly investigating this incident and producing recommendations, the Dutch Safety Board aims to improve the safety for citizens.

More about investigations into aviation incidents can be found in the Quarterly Aviation Report Q2 2023.

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