UK defence secretary Dr Liam Fox has formally withdrawn the accusation that the Royal Air Force Boeing Chinook crash at the Mull of Kintyre in 1994 was caused by the pilots’ negligence, and has apologised to the crew’s families on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

Fox made his statement following the publication on 13 July of an independent review of the evidence from the official accident report.

When the accident investigation was originally completed it did not contain an allegation of blame. That was appended to the report as the judgement of two senior RAF officers.

The independent review, led by Lord Philip, examined the evidence relating to the findings of the accident Board of Inquiry.

Lord Philip said: “Because of the limited amount of evidence available, the investigating Board of Inquiry were unable to determine the cause of the accident, and so concluded that it was impossible to find that the pilots had been negligent to any degree.

“The reviewing officers, on the other hand, concluded on the same evidence that both pilots had been negligent to a gross degree,” he added.

The evidence was limited because the Chinook was not fitted with flight data recorders or cockpit voice recorders.

Fox stated: “[The review] concludes the cause of the accident is likely never to be known.” The MoD will remove the accusation of negligence from the pilots’ records, he said.

The review makes three recommendations:

  • the finding that the pilots were negligent to a gross degree should be set aside;
  • the MoD should consider offering an apology to the families of the pilots;
  • the MoD should reconsider its policy and procedures for the transport of personnel whose responsibilities are vital to national security.

The latter recommendation relates to the fact that a large group of senior military officials were on board the same aircraft, despite one of the pilots having questioned the wisdom of the decision to accommodate them all on the same flight.

All 29 passengers and crew on Chinook ZD576 died in the accident.

Access the full Mull of Kintyre review document

Source: Flight International