No Fatal Accident Inquiry to be held over Tornado tragedy

Adam Saunders, Hywel Poole and Sam Bailey were lost in 2012 accident.

There will be no Fatal Accident Inquiry held into the collision of two Tornado jets in 2012 that left three airmen dead and another seriously injured.

A long running campaign has been conducted seeking agreement by the Crown Office to hold a FAI – but that was ruled out on Thursday when it was claimed that it would only repeat the “highly detailed” investigation already carried out by the Military Aviation Authority (MAA).

Squadron Leader Sam Bailey and Flight Lieutenants Hywel Poole and Adam Saunders died when two Tornado GR4’s from RAF Lossiemouth crashed over the Moray Firth as the aircraft prepared to return to their Moray base in July 2012.

The Ministry of Defence admitted liability for the crash and an investigation by the MAA made a number of recommendations, concluding that a contributory factor to the crash was the lack of a collision warning system which they say may have helped prevent the mid-air collision.

Defence ministers have since ordered the fitting of collision warning systems, however the introduction of a system has been fraught with difficulties and only a handful of the RAF’s fast jet fleet have so far had a system fitted.

Calls have also been made for the Crown Office to order a FAI into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the airmen, however, David Green, who is head of the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit at the Crown Office, confirmed that would not be taking place.

He said: “Crown Counsel carefully weighed up the full circumstances of the case, and concluded that a fatal accident inquiry could not better and would only repeat the highly detailed investigation into the tragedy already conducted by the MAA.

“The service inquiry report which they produced also contains conclusions and recommendations which are more wide ranging than could be expected to be achieved in a fatal accident inquiry.

“The RAF and MoD have accepted the recommendations of the report, and the nearest relatives of those who tragically died in this accident have been advised of Crown Counsel’s decision.”

One of the leading advocates of a FAI and the fitting of collision warning systems on the RAF’s fast jet fleets has been Moray MP Angus Robertson, who said he was “mystified” by the decision.

The MP said: “This is an extremely disappointing decision. I am totally mystified why there won’t be a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

“There are critical outstanding questions about Tornado safety and the delayed collision warning system. The MoD failed in its duty of care towards the RAF personnel involved in the Tornado collision.

“I believe they, their families and colleagues deserved better and a proper inquiry.”

A MoD spokesman said that their thoughts remained with the families of the dead airmen, but added that the MAA had made 42 recommendations – all of which had been implemented. The spokesman added: “The recommendations included the introduction of a collision avoidance system to Tornado GR4 aircraft that will be another tool for aircrew to use.

“This is the first time such a system has been fitted to existing combat fast jets anywhere in the world.”

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