Published: 19/02/2014 09:49 - Updated: 19/02/2014 09:58

Tornado delays step up call for FAI

A COLLISION warning system for Tornado aircraft was cancelled by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox against the advice of the Military Aviation Authority, Moray’s MP has revealed.

Although the Ministry of Defence has since taken the decision to install the system, it is not yet operational.

Mr Robertson says delays in the fitting of the system are unacceptable.

He is demanding a Fatal Accident Investigation into a mid-air collision involving two Tornados from RAF Lossiemouth over the Moray Firth on July 3, 2012 which resulted in the deaths of three personnel and one was seriously injured.

Flight Lieutenant Adam Sanders (27), Squadron Leader Samuel Bailey (36) and Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole (28), all from XV (Reserve) Squadron were on a routine training flight at the time. A fourth flyer was seriously injured.

Mr Robertson revealed the catalogue of delays following a Freedom of Information request to the MoD.

He said: "The then Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox cancelled its installation a full 12 years after a commitment had been made to do so, against the advice of the Military Aviation Authority who warned that without installation of this system they would not be able to certify the risk of collision as being acceptable.

"The MoD suddenly u-turned, possibly causing yet further delays in starting to install this system, which is not yet operational.

"These new revelations are shocking and I believe that the families of the victims of the fatal Tornado crash now deserve the fullest answers and the whole truth.

"Why did the then Secretary of State for Defence ignore the clear advice of the head of the Military Aviation Authority and cancel the installation collision warning system, only to reinstate it several months later? How much delay did this add to the installation of collision warning system?"

"It is scandalous that the MoD committed to a Tornado collision warning system in the 1998, bizarrely cancelled it 12 years later, then changed its mind – but all far too late to potentially avert that fatal crash in 2012. Some 16 years on – it has still not been installed.

"We don’t know whether such a system would definitely have stopped the collision above the Moray Firth in 2012 and saved lives, but that is what must be determined by an FAI."

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "A Service Inquiry has been completed and as Scotland’s Procurator Fiscal is considering whether a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) will be held it would be inappropriate to comment on what may have caused the accident.

"There are already a range of mitigation measures in place to minimise the risk of mid-air collision. A Collision Warning System is currently being installed in the Tornado GR4 fleet and is expected to be in service later this year."

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