Chinook crash review panel to be swamped in evidence?

When they were in opposition the Conservatives announced that they would, if elected, appoint a judge to review the evidence against the pilots of ZD576. In response, five former RAF chiefs said they wanted to brief ministers of a new...

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When they were in opposition the Conservatives announced that they would, if elected, appoint a judge to review the evidence against the pilots of ZD576. 

In response, five former RAF chiefs said they wanted to brief ministers of a new government.

Sir Michael Alcock, formerly a Chief Engineer of the RAF, together with Sir Michael Graydon, Sir Richard Johns, Sir Peter Squire and Sir Glenn Torpy - all former chiefs of air staff - wrote to the Daily Telegraph in January 2010:

“We understand that in the event of a Conservative administration coming to power it will revisit the Mull of Kintyre Chinook accident and consider the negligence finding.

“Each one of us has reviewed separately the findings of the Board of Inquiry and reached the same conclusion, namely that basic airmanship failings caused this tragic accident.

“If yet another review is to take place then we would welcome an opportunity to brief ministers and discuss in necessary detail why this finding remains inescapable…”

Now that the Coalition has set up a review panel, it is likely the former air chiefs will want to compose their submissions for Lord Philip and three other Privy Counsellors who comprise the review panel.  

So too will the MoD. 

MoD's attitude in the past to independent Chinook inquiries 

When the Scottish authorities began organising a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Chinook crash officials at the MoD tried diligently to impede its being set up.

The MoD also tried to thwart the setting up by the House of Lords of an inquiry into the crash. In both instances the Ministry failed. 

But it succeeded in influencing the wording of the terms of reference of an inquiry into the accident by the House of Commons’ Defence Committee in July 1998. The Committee agreed to look at the “ lessons of the Chinook crash” - not the findings against the pilots. 

So it's clear the MoD will try and influence the final decision of Lord Philip and his panel - but so too will campaigners who are now preparing evidence to send to the inquiry.

It's likely the review panel will be swamped with evidence. Much of it will be apparently contradictory but I suspect it can be boiled down to these two questions:

a) Does the review panel have enough trust in the limited evidence from the wreckage, the circumscribed investigation of the crash by the Air Accident Investigation Branch, and the (uncorroborated) evidence of the Chinook's computer and equipment manufacturers, to make assumptions that the helicopter was under the control of the pilots in the moments before impact?

b) If these assumptions are taken as fact, can it be extrapolated from the available evidence that both pilots were grossly negligent without any doubt whatsoever? 

Links:  


Good overview of the evidence by Michael Powers QC - lawyer for the families of the pilots who died in the Chinook crash 


Still Hitting Back - long-established pilot forum on the Chinook crash 

Campaign for Justice - excellent website dedicated to the campaign to restore the reputation
of Jonathan Tapper and Rick Cook, the pilots of ZD576. 

The various inquiries into the Chinook crash - report of the House of Lords

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