UK clears Hawk T2s, Tucanos for return to training duties

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The UK Royal Air Force is to resume normal flight activities with its BAE Systems Hawk T2s and Shorts Tucano T1 basic trainers, but its older Hawk T1s remain temporarily grounded.

Operations involving the two types were stopped on 8 November, after a pilot from the RAF's Hawk T1-equipped Red Arrows aerobatic display team died following a ground incident involving his Martin-Baker Mk 10 ejection seat.

Other aircraft types equipped with the same seat design were restricted from performing training flights, although the RAF's Panavia Tornado GR4s were subsequently cleared to resume such activities from 17 November.

 

© BAE Systems

The decision to approve a return to flight for the new-generation Hawk T2 advanced jet trainer (above) and Tucano basic trainer was made "following consideration of safety and engineering advice", the RAF said.

The RAF said it is "still reviewing other available evidence regarding Hawk T1", and that "the temporary suspension of flying for these aircraft remains in place at this time".

 

© Rex Features

On 22 November, a preliminary inquest into the death of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham confirmed his seat had fired after the completion of ground safety checks, but that its parachute had failed to activate. An investigation continues into the cause of the incident.