RAF deny safety concerns at Lossiemouth over ‘chronic shortages’ claim

Defence chiefs are dismissing claims by Moray’s MP that safety is being undermined through “chronic shortages” of aircraft maintenance staff at RAF Lossiemouth

Angus Robertson MP made the claims after raising a series of questions at the UK Parliament probing into the number of personnel being employed at the Moray base.

Responses revealed that RAF Lossiemouth had the largest proportion of available vacancies for aircraft tradesmen posts in the UK. The Moray base had 27 posts vacant from 482 in 2011 – but by last month there were only 252 posts remaining and 59 of these were currently unfilled.

Mr Robertson said that was a 23.4% gap that he claims is further underlined in a recent Military Aviation Authority (MAA) report highlighting a UK-wide shortfall of suitably qualified and experienced personnel in the RAF.

The Moray MP said: “These figures are shocking – the recent MAA annual report said that there were chronic shortages and that safety was being undermined.

“It is bad enough that Westminster is making huge cuts in the numbers of these posts leading to the position that shortages are at an historic all-time high. It would be hoped that even with the savage defence cuts the MoD would at least retain a bare minimum of staff – but now more than one in 10 post are unfilled, with RAF Lossiemouth reporting the biggest shortfall in the RAF.”

However, aviation experts are warning that caution should be taken over the high figures for the Moray base which is currently in a transition stage between the removal of Tornado GR4 squadrons and the imminent arrival of Typhoon squadrons being moved from RAF Leuchars.

An RAF spokesman stressed that the current position at RAF Lossiemouth was a temporary one during these changes. He said: “These figures represent a brief snapshot during which new aircraft entered service.

“Fleets increased in size with posts being created ahead of needing to be filled and while we reduced our overall number of RAF personnel.

“It is inevitable this would temporarily affect our overall figures but we still have all the people we need to carry out all operational tasks safely.”

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