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Coalition to review Chinook crash findings

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Liam Fox, Defence Secretary, has asked the MoD to look at ways of doing an independent review into the decision to blame the pilots for the crash of a Chinook helicopter on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994.

He said the government would honour the promise it made, while in opposition, to review the crash findings.

The Government made the renewed commitment in the House of Commons today, in response to a question by Liberal Democrat Sir Menzies Campbell, who has campaigned for more than 12 years to clear the names of Flight Lieutenants Rick Cook and Jonathan Tapper, the pilots of Chinook ZD576.

The two pilots, two other crewmen, and twenty-five senior policeman and Northern Ireland intelligence officers were killed when ZD576 crashed into the Mull on 2 June 1994.

Nobody knows the cause of the crash and RAF rules at the time of the crash said that deceased aircrew could only be found negligent in cases where there was "absolutely no doubt whatsoever".


One of the worst software project failures in memory?

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Last month BBC R4's Today programme and Computer Weekly quoted from an MoD memo that said there was a "positively dangerous" flaw in the Chinook Mk2's safety-critical "Fadec" software.

Software code containing that dangerous flaw was fitted on the type of Chinook that crashed on the Mull of Kintyre in June 1994. The crash of Chinook ZD576 was one of the worst RAF accidents in peacetime.

All on board were killed including 25 VIPs.

There's active discussion today of a crash 16 years ago because two dead pilots were found to have caused the crash of an aircraft that some inside the RAF and the MoD considered was not safe to fly. The development of the Chinook Mk2 fuel-control software has been one of the most improvised projects we have investigated in decades.

It's likely that two RAF air marshals were unaware of the potential seriousness of the faults in the Chinook Mk2 when they found the dead pilots of Chinook ZD576, Flight Lieutenants Richard Cook and Jonathan Tapper, grossly negligent.

Only after an RAF Board of Inquiry into the Mull crash did it become clear that a series of internal documents had tried to alert the MoD hierarchy to the danger posed by the Chinook Mk2's safety-critical Fadec fuel control system.

That those internal MoD memos were not shown to the RAF Board of Inquiry into the Mull crash, or to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch which wrote a technical report on what it found in the wreckage, has never been explained.

The number of those who are now convinced the Mk2 Chinook helicopter was not airworthy has much increased since the disclosure of these documents.We have published several of the documents.

Now we're publishing (below) in technical detail another of the leaked documents: one written by EDS - which is now owned by HP. The EDS report explained in detail what was wrong with the Chinook Mk2's software.

EDS had been commissioned by the MoD to examine the Chinook Fadec's 16, 254 lines of software code.

The analysis was carried out in July 1993, nearly a year before the crash on the Mull.

EDS found such a density of "category one" anomalies - the most potentially serious flaws  - that I find it hard to believe that the RAF put the Mk2 Chinook into service without a software rewrite.

Five Knights ask to brief Tories on Chinook fatal crash

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Four former chiefs of the air staff - and a former RAF Chief Engineer - have written to the Daily Telegraph saying they would wish to brief ministers if there is "yet another" review of the RAF's decision to blame the pilots for the crash of Chinook ZD 576 on the Mull in June 1994.

Sir Michael Graydon, Sir Richard Johns, Sir Peter Squire, Sir Glenn Torpy, and Sir Michael Alcock say that the finding of gross negligence against the pilots of ZD 576 was "inescapable".

It appears that the five wish to preempt the appointment of a High Court judge to review the evidence against the pilots, which is what the Tories have promised to do if they are elected.

Flawed Chinook Fadec updated only after fatal Mull crash

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Faulty safety-critical "Fadec" software that was installed on the Chinook Mk2 helicopter had secret modifications after the notorious fatal crash on the Mull of Kintyre, Computer Weekly has learned.

The Ministry of Defence has repeatedly dismissed claims that the Mull crash could have been caused by software. Its argument, in part, is that Chinooks have been flying safely all over the world while fitted with the "Fadec" engine control system.

But Computer Weekly has learned that the contractors responsible for the Fadec software, who had previously resisted making code changes requested by the MoD's IT experts at Boscombe Down, modified the software after the crash on the Mull of Kintyre - at their own expense.

Full article on ComputerWeekly.com

BBC "Today" reports again on "bitter debate" over danger Chinook Fadec

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BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning raised the question of whether the Ministry of Defence hierarchy is "protecting its own" by maintaining that two pilots were to blame for the crash of a Chinook helicopter that might not have been airworthy.

The broadcast, by Today investigative reporter Angus Stickler, follows his report last week on a "positively dangerous" flaw in the Chinook Mk2's Fadec engine control computer system.

Computer Weekly last week published the internal MoD memo on which Stickler's original report was based.

This is what was said on the Today broadcast this morning:  

James Naughtie [presenter]:  "Last week, an investigation by this programme into the loss of a Chinook helicopter in 1994 - that crash on the Mull of Kintyre - revealed that there were serious concerns about computer software which was being used to control the engines.

"Now a rather bitter debate has erupted in the wake of those reports, in the letters pages of at least one national newspaper. Our reporter Angus Stickler - whose report it was - has been unpicking the detail.

Tories repeat commitment to review Chinook crash findings

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The House of Commons held a short debate yesterday on the notorious, fatal crash of Chinook ZD576 on the Mull of Kintyre in June 1994.

During the debate, the Shadow Defence Minister, Gerald Howarth, said that an incoming Conservative government will, if elected, review the RAF's decision to blame the helicopter's two pilots.  

The Commons debate came after new disclosures about the poor state of the Chinook Mk2's  "Fadec" engine control software.

The Chinook's manufacturer Boeing had categorised the newly-developed Fadec software as safety-critical. IT specialists at the MoD, Boscombe Down, were so concerned about the software that they wanted it re-written before they would recommend that the system was safe.

One internal MoD memo said the Fadec software had a "positively dangerous" flaw. Despite this concern, and without any major change to the Fadec software, the RAF cleared the Chinook Mk2 for flight in late 1993.

Subsequently, there were 15 Chinook incidents within 1258 flying hours, all of which involved the Fadec. In some of the incidents Chinook Mk2 engines were damaged .

Web publication of "Macdonald" report on Chinook ZD576 crash

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ZD576 the Chinook which crashed (reduced).JPG
[Picture is of Chinook ZD576, which later crashed notoriously on the Mull of Kintyre]

An impressive and extensively-researched report on the Chinook Mk2 accident, by three fellows of the Royal Aeronautical Society, has been published on the web today by The Guardian.

An excerpt: "... vital information relating to Chinook HC2 engine malfunctions was knowing kept from the various boards of inquiry by the RAF" and "known possible causal factors were ignored by the RAF's own BOI".

The fellows say that the views of RAF Boscombe Down test pilots and computer software specialists were ignored. The "aircraft was ordered into service before faults such as those found in the HC2 flight critical Fadec engine control computer software had been satisfactorily cleared...."



Royal Aeronautical Society fellows doubt safety of Chinook software

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Three fellows of the Royal Aeronautical Society have questioned whether the Chinook Mk2, of the type which crashed on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994, was airworthy.

They question the RAF's decision to clear the helicopter as safe to fly in the face of "world-leading, expert advice that the fuel computer software implementation was "positively dangerous".

Ministry of Defensiveness - culture of denial over Chinook software flaws

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This is an excerpt from an editorial in The Times on the blaming of two pilots for the crash of Chinook ZD576 on the Mull of Kintyre in June 1994.

It says, in essence, that the MoD would rather perpetuate an injustice than concede it could have been wrong all along.

From The Times:

"The Ministry of Defence, by refusing to reconsider its verdict that the 1994 helicopter crash which killed 29 people was caused by "gross negligence" by the pilots, is risking its credibility just to save face...

"The MoD's position relied on the assumption that technical failures in the Chinook's software system could not explain such a disastrous degree of error. But that possibility can no longer be ruled out.

"Before the crash, several internal MoD documents raised significant alarms about the Chinook's engine control computer software, describing it as positively dangerous.

Chinook Mk2: we publish new evidence of computer problems

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The lead news item on BBC radio and TV news for much of yesterday referred to computer-related evidence about the Chinook Mk2, of the type that crashed on the Mull of Kintyre in June 1994.

The crash killed all 29 on board including 25 senior police and intelligence officers. The RAF blamed the two dead special forces pilots, Flight Lieutenants Rick Cook and Jonathan Tapper.

BBC's Online's headline was: "Chinook crash may have been caused by software faults".

So what is the new evidence?

It's in two documents, which are herein published generally for the first time (see below). Thank you to a concerned insider for the information.

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