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Victims helping victims

February 20 International Day of Aircraft Accidents Victims and their Families”.

I clearly remember where I was and what I was doing on that tragic August 20, 2008… However, the memories are confused when I try to find the moment when I decided to bear the enormous weight of the struggle to obtain truth and justice for the disaster of Flight JK5022.
At the accident site on August 20, 2009, I felt something special that pushed me to get involved to this day. A year had passed and nothing was moving forward in Spain, except for big declarations by politicians. However, the way to the file of the judicial case was being travelled. While we wept for our loved ones, the alleged perpetrators were saying “the accident” was bad luck and they would get out the truth… What a lie!
An accident happens when human error occurs with all safety means. The tragedy occurs when knowing it is possible nobody does anything to avoid it. This simile applied to air safety shows that on many occasions the end of the trip is left to chance. Flight JK5022 had given signals the previous days, but nobody knew or wanted to detect them because the rush prevailed in the summer.
Back then in Spain, there had been no association of affected by civil aviation, so we had to go to other countries and see how they were done. In 2010 I went to ICAO and met the President of the ACVFA-USA, he informed me about ICAO Circular 285, an assistance plan for victims of air accidents. On August 20, 2008, such a plan was not followed, and I believe those who attended the emergency did not even know about it.
Since then, more than 13 years have passed. I have been part of Task-Force 285 which updated Circular 285 to ICAO Policy Document 9998 on Assistance of Air Accident Victims and their Families. I went alone to the ICAO Council Session on 03/01/2013 that approved it and, later, to the 38th ICAO Assembly that ratified it. Then Document 9973, the Manual, was established for explaining how to deal with an air accident in practice.
I continued working and in 2015 I created the Air Accident Victims’ Families’ Federation International in Madrid, together with the Associations of Victims of Pakistan Flight ED202, which crashed on July 28, 2010, and the Association of Germany HIOP-AF447. I submitted the request to ICAO for recognition of the ACVFFI as an International Organization invited to its events and the Council approved it in 2016.
At the 39th and 40th ICAO Assembly, we raised important issues: the assistance to victims at airports, the inclusion of Recommended Practice 8.46 of Annex 9, the improvement of insurance company practices, the translation of the Official Accident Report into the language of passengers, the requirements of the Accident Investigation Authorities, the rights of passengers, etc. The errors in emergency management that we suffer cannot be repeated and cannot be dealt with if they are not recognized. In addition, I have also insisted that ICAO establish a day to commemorate the victims of air accidents who have died anywhere in the world…
I attended an Informal Meeting of the ICAO Council on May 10 of 2021. On this occasion, I intervened to review all the issues that concern the victims and their families and asked for speed to carry them out. The first Symposium of Assistance to Air Accident Victims and their Families was an international meeting of victims, States, investigation Authorities, Insurers, industry, among others. It was held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria as another tribute to the Canarian victims who died on Flight JK5022 tragedy. I proposed February 20 as the International Day for Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families and it was approved by the Council last November.
The next FEBRUARY 20, 2022 will be the first that it will follow in the International Calendar. Fate has wanted that on this date 02/20/22 number 2 is repeated, coincident or not with Flight JK 50-22. He continues to fly over and will continue to do so as long as I lead AVJK5022 and ACVFFI.
The air disaster in Madrid-Barajas on August 20, 2008, gave rise to the Association of Affected of Flight JK5022, declared of a public utility on 03/05/2013 because it dedicates its activity to society in general and to aircraft users in particular. But, if there is something that distinguishes it from the others, it is its Canarian root. The canaries know the importance of the plane in our lives and, perhaps, for this reason, we could not close our eyes to the mistakes which caused this tragedy. The fight has been and is to correct them, but also to create a preventive culture because we refuse to turn the page as if nothing had happened.
Every day we remember our own and now every FEBRUARY 20, the people affected by an air accident in the world will unite our tears so that society remembers the thousands of deceased victims and their families.
As a Canary Islander, it gives me peace to know the difference between me and people who say they have not achieved anything is that I have tried with all my might. Although I have not yet gotten Spain declares August 20 as the National Day for Air Accident Victims and their Families, it does exist worldwide… It is said that houses do not start with the roof, but in Spain and in the air transport, it is like that.

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