ZD576 pilot had doubts about engine control

One of the pilots of Chinook ZD576 expressed a specific concern about the helicopter's engine control system hours before he died...

One of the pilots of Chinook ZD576 expressed a specific concern about the helicopter's engine control system hours before he died when the aircraft crashed on 2 June 1994.

The disclosure was made by flight lieutenant Geoffrey Young, a military helicopter instructor, in a statement to the RAF Board of Inquiry, which investigated the accident in June 1995.

His statement was among parts of the inquiry that the Ministry of Defence decided not to publish but which have been seen by Computer Weekly.

On the afternoon of the accident, Young met Rick Cook, one of the pilots of ZD576, who expressed concern about the Chinook's control units.

The safety-critical software-based units were among the main components in the helicopter's new Fadec engine control system. They automatically controlled the fuel to the Chinook's two jet engines, but they were proving unreliable at the time. Engines had shut down unexpectedly or had surged without a command from the pilots.

Young asked Cook, "I hear you are going abroad and how are you getting on with the MK2s?"

He continued in his statement, "[Cook] replied with words to the effect that the Mk2 was OK, but there were concerns over the reliability of the engines. He then qualified that as not being concern for the engines but for their control units. That was the last time I remember seeing flight lieutenant Cook."

The crash was blamed on Cook and flight lieutenant Jonathan Tapper but some experts have said a technical problem with the Fadec was at least as likely a cause of the accident as human error.

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