Chinook pilots feared onboard software

RAF pilots refused to fly the Chinook Mk2 helicopter for even short journeys before the fatal Mull of Kintyre crash due to...

RAF pilots refused to fly the Chinook Mk2 helicopter for even short journeys before the fatal Mull of Kintyre crash due to problems with its fuel control computer system, a House of Lords committee has heard.

Robert Burke, squadron leader at the time of the crash, was giving evidence last week to the committee on possible causes of the crash in Scotland which killed all 29 people on board.

Subsequently, in an RAF inquiry, two air marshals found the pilots grossly negligent.

After Computer Weekly and Channel Four News highlighted possible computer problems as a factor in the crash former Labour foreign affairs minister Lord Chalfont won a campaign for a new inquiry into the accident by a Lords committee.

As part of a series of hearings, the committee heard evidence from Burke who at the time of the crash on the Mull of Kintyre was a unit test pilot at RAF Odiham, the main Chinook base.

He said staff at Boscombe Down, where IT and aircraft specialists had assessed the airworthiness of the Chinook Mk2, were "very unhappy" about problems related to the aircraft's new Fadec computer system. At one stage pilots there refused to fly the Mk2 even for short journeys.

When a Chinook Mk2 needed to be flown from Boscombe Down to RAF Odiham, Burke said he could not persuade pilots there to undertake the 12-minute sortie. So Burke drove to Boscombe Down to fly the Mk2 back to Odiham.

The House of Lords hearings continue.

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