MP describes fitting of Tornado safety feature as ‘utter shambles’

A programme to fit collision warning systems to Moray-based RAF jets was described as being “in chaos” this week.

That claim came from Moray MP Angus Robertson after he received an admission from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that while safety systems continued to be fitted they were not working properly.

A recent publication of the Annual Air Safety Report from the Director General of the Military Aviation Authority (MAA), Air Marshal Garwood, was highly critical of the lack of any collision warning systems on the main Tornado and Typhoon aircraft flown from Moray.

The lack of the safety feature on Tornado aircraft 20 years after they had first been recommended had been cited as a factor in the collision over the Moray Firth in July 2012 that led to the death of three airmen.

In a written reply to questions at the House of Commons this week the MoD confirmed that problems installing a potentially life-saving collision warning system in RAF Tornado aircraft have not yet been successfully resolved and that the system was not working properly – but they continue to be installed.

The MoD also confirmed that a similar system for RAF Typhoon aircraft remains only in the early testing stages with no investment decision made or a system selected.

Mr Robertson said: “The MoD has confirmed an utter shambles with safety systems being installed on the jets even though they do not work properly.

“Only last week the MoD revealed in a question to me that only 8 of 100 jets had this vital safety system installed – but at that time the MoD avoided saying that they didn’t work. It is like installing a smoke alarm but not bothering to put in the battery. The situation is totally unacceptable.

“The programme is clearly in chaos – over twenty years after Ministers recommended that these systems would save lives they remain largely uninstalled.

“To make matters worse the MoD have revealed that a collision warning system for the Typhoon remains in the concept phase with absolutely no timetable for when or even what system will be put in it.

“It is clear that the MoD has a cavalier approach to safety which has resulted in decades of dither and delay.

“It adds even more weight to the calls for a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the tragic Tornado 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 Minister Philip Dunne said that trials of the system on Tornado GR4 aircraft revealed that modifications were required, adding: “Work is continuing to resolve these issues and once further trials and testing has been completed we will be in a better position to determine when the full capability will be available.”

The Tornado is due to be withdrawn from service in 2019.

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