MoD was warned not to fly Chinook on day of crash

A senior defence official warned the Ministry of Defence to suspend flights of a Chinook helicopter because of safety concerns on the day the aircraft crashed...

A senior defence official warned the Ministry of Defence to suspend flights of a Chinook helicopter because of safety concerns on the day the aircraft crashed on the Mull of Kintyre, a leaked memo reveals.

The crash, described as the RAF's worst peace time accident, killed four aircrew and 25 senior police and intelligence officers 14 years ago.

The defence secretary, John Hutton, this week indicated he would uphold the official verdict that the Chinook pilots were guilty of "gross negligence" despite a long running campaign to clear their names.

But a leaked memo from a senior military officer, seen by Computer Weekly, shows that there were serious concerns about the safety of the helicopter on the day of the crash.

The memo, from the Rotary Wing Test Squadron, dated 2 June 1994, raises questions about the safety of the Chinook's computerised Fadec engine control system.

It warned there had been a large number of incidents with the helicopter engine, despite limited flying time.

"Recommendations with respect to Fadec have, to date, been ignored. Until RWTS is provided with a clear, unequivocal and realistic explanation of the faults further Chinook H2 flying shall not be authorised," the memo said.

It went on to say the organisation "has always been keenly aware of the risks associated with operating the Chinook H2 and has tailored sortie profiles accordingly. Crews of the RAF have no such luxury and are likely to be at higher risk.

"As such RWTS deems it imperative that, in the strongest possible terms, the RAF should be provided with a recommendation to cease Chinook HC2 operations."

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