The failure of the Ministry of Defence to install a collision warning system to the RAF’s Tornado aircraft was a major factor in the accident that killed three airmen over the Moray Firth two years ago.
That is one of the main conclusions reached in a report on the accident that will be made public today.
The Military Aviation Authority report into the collision of two Tornado GR4’s from RAF Lossiemouth just off the coast of Caithness in 2012 was completed last year – but its findings are only now being made public.
It is understood that the 300-page report has found that the accident may never have happened if the aircraft had been fitted with collision warning systems – which had been recommended for the Tornado fleet as far back as 1998.
The report lists 19 different factors that led to the collision and makes more than 50 recommendations – with the fitting of collision warning systems as a matter of urgency at their head.
Now the MP who has been pressing for information on failures to fit the collision warning systems to the RAF’s frontline fighter aircraft is calling for explanations on why the Typhoon aircraft recently moved to the Moray base are also lacking the detection technology.
“Fighter jets in Scotland are a regular sight, particularly in Moray, which means the safety of these aircraft is directly relevant to the wider community,” Angus Robertson MP said.
He added: “Many people live under the regular flight paths of the Tornados and, since their recent move to RAF Lossiemouth, the Typhoons.
“It is difficult to believe the Typhoon aircraft was not installed with a warning system from the very start – they are mandatory on civilian aircraft.”
The Moray MP added that for too long the MoD had been “getting away with decisions about airworthiness and safety”, adding: “This has costs lives and must end.
“There is now an overwhelming public interest in having a fatal accident inquiry into the events surrounding the collision over the Moray Firth – we need to know who decided what, when and why.”
The 2012 accident resulted in the deaths of Flight Lieutenant Adam Saunders, Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole and Squadron Leader Samuel Bailey. A fourth airman, Squadron Leader Paul Evans, was seriously injured in the crash.