The Ministry of Defence has come under further pressure over their failure to fit collision avoidance equipment to Tornado jets that might have helped avoid a fatal accident over the Moray Firth.
Moray’s MP Angus Robertson has been pressing defence ministers as a decision is awaited from the Procurator Fiscal on if a Fatal Accident Inquiry is to be held into the 2012 collision involving two RAF Lossiemouth Tornado aircraft, resulting in the deaths of three airmen and serious injuries to a fourth.
Families of the airmen involved have been provided with copies of the Military Aviation Inquiry into the accident – and while they have been instructed not to talk about the contents of that report it is thought that it is critical of the MoD.
Media reports suggest that the inquiry looked at the absence of collision avoidance systems on Tornado jets – despite these being identified as a requirement by the MoD as far back as 1998.
Now it has been revealed by the Moray MP that since 1998 RAF Tornado aircraft have been involved in 361 near-miss incidents – 46 of which were the most serious ‘Category A’ in which a real risk of collision was present.
Mr Robertson said: “These statistics on aircraft near-collisions are truly shocking.
“What stands out are the 361 incidents involving RAF Tornado jets – of which at least 46 were the most dangerous ‘Risk Category A’ where a risk of an actual collision occurred – and of those, at least 8 were incidents involving two Tornados
“Almost all aircraft types have collision avoidance systems to reduce the risk, but RAF Tornados which are involved the most in near-collisions do not.
“Tragically two Tornados from RAF Lossiemouth collided above the Moray Firth in 2012 killing three personnel and seriously injuring a fourth.
“We will learn shortly whether a Fatal Accident Inquiry will be held into the circumstances and no doubt the absence of a collision warning system will be part of the considerations.
“Fast jets and their crews face particular training and operational risks, but the MOD has a duty of care to provide potential life saving equipment like collision warning systems. Such a system was recommended by the MOD in 1998 for Tornados but have not yet been installed.”
An MoD spokesman said that such air proximity incidents were “extremely rare” in comparison to the millions of flights in UK airspace each year, adding: “Tornado pilots, like all military aviators, have multiple mitigation measures in place that reduce the risks of mid-air collisions.”