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Ex-RAF chief says no to blame on Chinook

A former RAF air commodore has questioned the integrity of systems and the airworthiness of the type of Chinook helicopter which...

A former RAF air commodore has questioned the integrity of systems and the airworthiness of the type of Chinook helicopter which crashed on the Mull of Kintyre 10 years ago in one of the RAF’s worst peacetime accidents.

John Blakeley is the most senior engineering officer to have questioned the decision to blame the pilots for the disaster.

He examined the airworthiness, maintenance and engineering aspects of evidence presented to the RAF board of inquiry that found the pilots negligent. His report highlights major shortcomings in the RAF’s investigation.

Last week prime minister Tony Blair promised to meet an all-party delegation of MPs to discuss the fatal crash of Chinook ZD576 on 2 June 1994.

The RAF attributed the crash to gross negligence by the pilots, flight lieutenants Rick Cook and Jonathan Tapper, but Blakeley’s report, published to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the accident, has new evidence of flaws in the investigation process.

An intermittent defect in the helicopter’s engine computer control system was at least as likely to have caused the crash as aircrew error, said Blakeley.

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