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Chinook Justice

Old 5th Feb 2002, 16:14
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Post Chinook Justice

Two RAF pilots blamed for the 1994 Chinook helicopter crash that left 29 people dead have effectively been cleared of causing the disaster.

A House of Lords inquiry concluded there was no justification for finding fault with the men, who died along with their 25 passengers and two other crew.

Many of those on board were among Britain's most senior counter-terrorist officers working in Northern Ireland.

Full story: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
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Old 5th Feb 2002, 16:25
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Hurrah! About time too! It was the only honourable conclusion to be drawn. May they now rest in peace. God bless their families.
Old 5th Feb 2002, 18:30
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I agree, about timme too!. .Those guys were doing a difficult but worthy job at the time. Thank goodness their families had the tenacity to see this through. Let's just hope they get some comfort from the end result.. .The RAF should issue a public apology for it's disgraceful behaviour.

Rick Cook and John Tapper - Rest in peace
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Old 5th Feb 2002, 20:00
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So, answer me these questions:

Why did the aircraft crash in IMC below safety altitude?

How much part did a FADEC failure play in the accident?

There are as many questions left unanswered by today's Lords ruling as there were by the original RAF Board of Inquiry. Until these questions are answered fully, the cause of the accident remains in doubt, and today's ruling does nothing to clear it up.
Old 5th Feb 2002, 20:27
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Neo, while I am happy to accept that you are not in agreement with the House of Lords finding (each of us is entitled to hold our own view), I would pose the following questions to you:<ul type="square">1. What evidence do you have that the crew was, in fact, flying on instruments in IMC while below the LSA? Were you on the flightdeck at the time?

2. What part do you say a FADEC failure played in the accident?

3. What is it about the HoL ruling that makes you so unhappy?[/list]You would do well to remember that many people have worked hard to right a perceived wrong here, and your comments would certainly cause offence to them, not to mention to me. <img src="mad.gif" border="0">

[ 05 February 2002: Message edited by: interested ]</p>
Old 5th Feb 2002, 20:32
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Q1. Unfortunately, no-one knows, or will ever know. Several suggestions in the report(s) why it might have happened, but no facts!. .Q2. No evidence that FADEC problems played a part, some evidence that they didn't. Read the report and make your own conclusions.

Report published at:. . <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

The HofL decision says that the evidence presented cannot sustain the suggestion(by AVMs) that there was "absolutely no doubt whatsoever" that they were grossly negligent. However, whilst it doesn't seek to clear the pilots of any involvement, IMHO it does indicate that there is not enough actual evidence available to make an unrefutable case against them.

Other comments/views contained within the military forum at:. . <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

[ 05 February 2002: Message edited by: newswatcher ]</p>
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Old 5th Feb 2002, 20:40
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This news is long overdue.

As others have said the RAF and AVM's should. .appologise now.
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Old 5th Feb 2002, 20:55
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It was pointed out that the FADEC was known to produce unwarranted increases and decreases in rotor speed and that there was no trace of it ever doing so. If this is the case then there was no way the men should have been found negligent. How can you be negligent in an aircraft which, apparently, does as it pleases and leaves no trace of it's actions??
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Old 5th Feb 2002, 21:05
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a lot of people waiting for the public apology from the Air Chief Marshal now....... <img src="mad.gif" border="0">
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 00:29
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I may be wrong but I seem to recall that the experts on the Board Of Inquiry actually declined to label the Chinook pilots as grossly negligent because there wasn't enough evidence to form a clear picture of events leading to the accident.

It was only when the report went up the chain to higher authority that the Board's (expert) opinion was overturned; even though to do so went against the clear guidance in the manuals.

Justice has been done; those that couldn't defend themselves have had their names cleared once and for all.

. .Rgds

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Old 6th Feb 2002, 00:36
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May I suggest that anyone who still has questions about the crash obtain a copy of JM Ramsden's booklet "Chinook Doubts - A Pain Person's Guide," which marshalls all the facts surrounding the accident in an easily digestible form. It costs 10 and is available from Ramsden himself at 20, Townsend Drive, St Albans, Herts AL3 5RQ. Ramsden is an eminently qualified authority with no vested interest in absolving the dead, and he has exhaustively researched as many aspects of this accident as are possible.
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 01:37
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Judging by the reaction from the junior defence spokesman (Adam somebody? broad spoken Scot) on BBC R5 this evening don't expect a rapid reverse by the establishment. The most nauseating bit was the implication that Rifkind, not a politician one might would normally respect but who has honourably said that he has changed his view since losing office was politically motivated in doing so.
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 01:39
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as a current mil pilot who has followed this enquiry from the outset - indeed a friends father was killed in the accident, i hope you do not mind my responding. you raise some pertinent points.

first and foremeost the purpose of the Lords enquiry was not to positively determine the cause of the accident. the remit of the enquiry was to examine whether there was sufficient proof to show "with no doubt whatsoever" that the pilots were "grossly negligent" ie guilty of manslaughter.

the lords enquiry shows no more than there was sufficient doubt behind the grossly negligent verdict reached by wrotten and day. therefore the reputations of 2 outstanding aviators, husbands and sons has been restored.

as the raf refused to fit adr or cvr to the fleet we will never be able to positively determine the cause of the accident. despite an alarming lack of proof 2 air marshalls with a vested interest in the result returned a grossly negligent verdict.

the campaign has only been concerned with clearing the names of the pilots.
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 03:21
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As an ex-RAF officer who has actually served on a Board of Enquiry I would like to add something here. Because of the absence of FDRs/CVRs, we will never truly know the cause of the Chinook accident with absolute certainty, and I think we all accept that. This brings me to the crux of the issue. Up until this accident, it was one of the 'sacred cows' of military Boards of Enquiry that in the event of a fatal accident you were simply not permitted to find the crew 'grossly neglegent' unless there was overwhelming and compulsive evidence to support that view. By way of example, the Lightning accident off Scarborough Pier some years ago where the pilot went off his briefed route and gave an impromptu display to some air cadets he had come across before losing control and crashing in the sea was such an example. In virtually no other fatal accident cases that I can think of, including many where there was a very strong suggestion of 'gross negligence' but a tiny doubt remained, was anyone actually found formally to be 'grossly negligent'. The logic was that those who needed to learn from the accident (ie the crews who flew the same types of aircraft)were amply able to do so without a formal label on it. Families of the deceased were thereby protected from the anguish and pain that inevitably follows proclamations of 'gross negligence', but the appropriate lessons could be learned. The system worked very well.

The Chinook accident was the first one to vary from the traditional way of categorising fatal accidents. The main reason for this was the 'heads on poles' mentality that existed among Air Rank officers because of the large loss of life among such key security personnel. As could have been predicted, the families of those blamed have been devastated and no real gain has been made in terms of lessons learnt. What value has been accrued by the public crucifixion of the 2 dead pilots? Has anything been added to flight safety? The answer in both cases is a big 'NO' because the atmosphere has been so poisoned that the real lessons could not be learnt by the people who needed them - the other Chinook pilots.

The system as was, where no gross negligence was attributed to dead crew (except in the most exceptional circumstances), was exactly the right way to handle things. We all know that lessons could be learned from this accident, but none that justify the agony poured on the families of the dead. As I said at the beginning, no one will ever know with total certainty what happened on that tragic day, and as long as doubt exists to even the smallest degree, a verdict of 'gross negligence' was entirely inappropriate.
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 03:39
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Folks. . .This aircraft was on a VMC navex. It was observed, shortly before impact,in controlled high speed flight, below cloud, heading towards a hill that was in fog. The TANS nav system recorded the last 30 secs of flight, the aircraft was spot on track. It hit the rock in a tail down attitude with full power applied. It was quite simply put in a position in space and time from which a recovery without any technical failure would have been impossible. The normal procedure in conditions such as these is to slow down even, if necessary, to the hover, not charge on flat out towards a cliff. These facts are known. One of the senior officers involved here commanded a helicopter squadron in N Ireland, he knows, and so do a few others of us, that the question of technical failure is irrelevant. 29 people were killed.
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 03:50
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Seriph, I think you need to go away and check the facts again.

The HoL did, and came to the conclusion that there was NO EVIDENCE that would justify a conclusion of gorss negligence against the crew. Or perhaps you know better?
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 04:17
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Good news today.........long over due as well I hasten to add.

By coincidence, I recorded a docmentary about this crash some years ago now and I happen to be watching it again only last weekend.

Something that sticks with me is that the F/O had discussed various safety issues regarding the MK2 with his Father (who was a former Concorde Pilot) Suffice to say, given his personal reservations about the MK2, he increased the value of his Life Policies left right and centre.....I wonder why??? Regrettably we will never know now.

However, something I would like to know is.....Why in the hell was the Cream of the British Intelligence Service "together" on a flight back to the UK Mainland???? Interesting that now one has seemingly investigated that???? At the very least I would have expected them to have been split up, purely on a risk basis.

Just thought I would ask

RIP now to all those involved.


[ 06 February 2002: Message edited by: Captain Numpty ]</p>
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 04:22
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Seriph may be right, but to find these Pilots grossly negligent requires "evidence beyond reasonable doubt" that they had so abrogated their duty that neither questioned the other about their headlong plunge into IMC below MSA.

The gross negligence verdict suggests that either they colluded together in committing suicide and murder, or that one didn't really know where he was or where he was going, and that the other, at no time questioned him, nor did he have any significant situational awareness himself.

Further, to suggest that two RAF trained helicopter pilots would behave like this at all, let alone with passengers on board seems extraordinary. What a failing of the RAF training and command structure that two apparently "dangerous" pilots could be let lose with such a precious cargo. If that is the case (and surely it is not) then it reflects rather badly on those in command, namely the very AVMs who found these two grossly negligent.

And we know that reasonable doubt does exist; the FADEC issue is one cause of doubt, another is that there is no rational explanation as to why two rational people jointly flew their aeroplane into a cliff.

(The minister on the TV tonight suggested that FADEC was not a safety critical system by the way.)

Let us simply hope that those who persist in supporting this extraordinary verdict are shown to be on completely untenable ground.

Ultimately it may or may not be that the pilots could have avoided the tragic accident, but we can never know that since there is simply not enough evidence, and since there is not, the Gross Negligence verdict is a nonsense.

[ 06 February 2002: Message edited by: dde0apb ]</p>
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 06:11
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Will "Jonny Wrotten" ever bring himself to apologise? I doubt it! However, for all that I was ever taught about on FLAC/FSC, then this should always have been the honourable decision for the HofL to make.

I do not know a lot about the Chinook HCMk2, but when I was on 1312flt at MPA and then 78Sqn got a new HCMk2, they wouldn't unload it or even put it back to together and replace the HCmk1 as Boeing/RAF had sent no supporting paperwork - and I mean none(ACM/F700etc nada!!).
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Old 6th Feb 2002, 10:54
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Don't flame me I admit I know nothing about flying helicopters but a question comes to mind.. .If you are flying in cloud or fog over Scotland then why not fly at 4,500 feet, until you reach your destination, that way you are absolutely sure of not hitting the terrain. <img src="confused.gif" border="0">
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