That was the view expressed by the director general of the Military Aviation Authority (MAA), Air Marshal Richard Garwood, following a new report on the MoD’s failure to progress the installation of a collision warning system on the RAF’s Typhoon fleet.
One of the conclusions in a report by the MAA on the 2012 tragedy when two Lossimeouth-based Tornado jets collided over the Moray Firth was that the failure to fit a warning system had been a contributory factor.
In their report the MAA recommended that the safety feature should be installed on the Typhoon aircraft.
However, as yet no action has been taken with Air Marshall Garwood issuing a further warning in a report this week that highlights how two Typhoons from the Moray base had to take evasive action to avoid a Jetstream passenger aircraft 15 miles to the south-east of the Moray base.
In the report the Air Marshal commented: “The provision of an ACAS to Typhoon is an important issue. As I stated in the Moray Firth Tornado mid-air collision service inquiry, in my view not fitting an ACAS to the Typhoon is an unsustainable position and I recommend this is pursued with full haste, mindful of the well-documented failings over the fitment of and ACAS to Tornado GR4.”
The Air Marshall warned that in albeit improbable worst-case a Typhoon colliding with a commercial aircraft would result in “severe consequences” for the MoD, adding: “The secretary of state will have been informed of the societal concern with regard Typhoon MAC by the chief of air staff in accordance with MAA regulations.”
A long-time campaigner for the systems to be fitted to RAF aircraft has been Moray’s MP Angus Robertson, who said: “This is a hugely damning report for the MoD.
“Twenty years after it was proven and recommended that these systems would save lives they remain to this day uninstalled. It is clear that the MoD with its cavalier approach to safety has learned no lessons as it has not even made the systems mandatory on new fast jets it acquires, while it drags its feet installing them on the ones they use already.
“The Director General is right to say that there is unnecessary risk – which includes an unthinkable collision with a civilian airliner – and the MoD have known this for decades and have done far too little.
“Importantly this report lends even more weight to the calls for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the tragic collision in July 2012. The buck is continuing to be passed – it must stop and those who are responsible for this sorry and dangerous saga are held fully to account.”
Defence ministers had pledged to fit a £50million system to Tornados by the end of last year but these plans were shelved after tests found issues with the system.
An MoD spokesman said that they welcomed the report from the MAA director general and was acting on its comments, adding: “Air safety is at the core of all aviation activity and we take very seriously our obligations to our people and the wider community.”