A UK military accident investigation into the fatal September Royal Air Force BAe Nimrod MR2 crash in Kandahar, Afghanistan has concluded that a fractured fuel pipe caused the fatal explosions, it has been reported.
UK newsaper The Sunday Times claims to have been briefed by sources close to the investigation ahead of publication of the final report in the next months.
These sources say the preliminary report will find the fuel line fractured either as the Nimrod (XV230) was being refuelled in mid-air or shortly afterwards. The leaking fuel and fumes in the fuselage belly subsequently caught fire, possibly due to a spark from faulty wiring. The report will rule out enemy fire.
The damage to the wreckage was so extensive that investigators have had to piece together their findings from cockpit voice, photographs of the wreckage and data transmissions.
The RAF crew was flying an anti-Taliban missions for NATO over Kandahar when a series of explosions led to the aircraft breaking up in mid-air. The board of inquiry believes that the fuel was safely delivered from the tanker via the refuelling probe but that a fuel line fractured somewhere near the control unit in the bottom of the fuselage.