Safety system would have prevented mid-air jet crash Victim: Flt Lt Hywel Poole, 28, died in crash; Damning report into accident in which N.Wales airman died.
A SAFETY measure approved by the Ministry of Defence 15 years ago but not installed on aircraft would have prevented jets from crashing and saved lives, air accident investigators are expected to say in a critical report today. Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole, 28, from Llandegfan near Menai Bridge, was among three airmen killed when two Tornado aircraft collided over the Moray Firth in July 2012.
Also killed were Sqn Ldr Samuel Bailey, 36, from Nottingham, and Flt Lt Adam Sanders, from Lancashire. Sqn Ldr Paul Evans, from RAF Lossiemouth, survived but was badly injured.
Air accident investigators are expected to conclude if the onboard collision warning system had been fitted to the RAF''s fleet of Tornados it would have prevented the accident.
The highly critical report is due to be published today by the Military Aviation Authority (MAA). The 18-month investigation concluded last year and MoD officials have been under intense pressure to publish its findings. The MoD said the report could not be made public until the Crown Office had decided whether to hold a fatal accident inquiry. Whether this will taken place has yet to be decided but at the weekend the MoD confirmed the report will be published.
MAA investigators went to great lengths to simulate the accident which happened over the Moray Firth, including carrying out a radar trace, and believe a system similar to those fitted to some other aircraft would have prevented the tragedy.
It is believed the 300-page report is particularly critical of the processes within the MoD, which meant procurement of a collision warning system for the Tornado fleet was repeatedly delayed, deferred and at one point deleted.
The report describes 19 contributory factors in the collision occurring and makes more than 50 recommendations.
The collision warning system CWS was finally approved after the crash but will not be fully functional until the end of this year. Last December a Freedom of Information request revealed the commitment to implement a collision avoidance system for Tornado GR4s was made by the MoD in 1998.
A PS60m traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) was considered for the bomber four years before the crash.
But retired RAF engineer Jimmy Jones, who made the FOI request, said the MoD approved the system in 1998 after indicating it was investigating anti-collision equipment as far back as 1990. SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson, whose Moray constituency contains RAF Lossiemouth where the two jets had been based, said: "It is scandalous the MoD committed to a Tornado collision avoidance system in the 1990s, but this was not installed in time to potentially avert the fatal 2012 crash and is still not in use."
Before the revelation, in a parliamentary answer to Mr Robertson, ministers said a solution was identified in 2008, indicating it was not installed because it was too expensive. He said the Government decided in January 2012 - six months before the crash - to tender for a cheaper system.