Almost a decade after the Celtic League called for more transparency over the operational safety record of the RAF Hawk jet trainer, another aircrew member has been killed in an accident last week at RAF Scampton.
The Celtic League has monitored the somewhat chequered history of the RAF jet trainer which operates extensively over the Celtic countries since the early 1980s. Hawk jets have crashed or been involved in accidents and incidents in Wales and on the Isle of Man.
In February 2002 we questioned the alarming attrition rate of the aircraft (at that time over 20%). However the Ministry of Defence and also some `purportedly’ authoritative aviation journalists dismissed our concerns.
However since 2002 the Hawk jet has been grounded on a number of occasions and aircrew have also been killed and injured in a range of accidents.
One of the difficulties in achieving a true picture of the Hawk (and some other aircraft types) safety record is the manner in which the RAF/MOD categorise accidents/incidents. This seems to have more to do with massaging the record than achieving an accurate determination of type safety.
The current older variants of Hawk are now approaching obsolescence and the Celtic League has on record (in correspondence from former Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth) that safety modifications recommended after a fatal accident 12 years ago have not been acted on. Ainsworth said:
“The 1999 BOI recommended that consideration be given to the fitment of a Radar Altimeter (RADALT) and Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) to the aircraft and a voice channel to the Accident Data Recorder (ADR). The introduction of RADALT and/or GPWS was not deemed cost-effective, given the proximity to the out of service date of the Hawk-T1.”
See Celtic News:
HAWK TRAINER – WE HAVE NOT FITTED SAFETY UPGRADE SAY MOD
Reassuringly the MOD said in February 2002 that:
“While they say we are doing something very dangerous, there has never been a civilian casualty in any accident”
However there is no doubt that many aircrews have been killed and injured and the MOD seems to show scant regard for their safety.
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(The report compiled for Celtic News by Bernard Moffatt Celtic League Director of Information)
For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666
The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.
ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.