One of three crewmen killed in jets crash 'feared flying'

Samuel Bailey, Hywel Poole and Adam Sanders died in the incident

Related Stories

One of three airmen who died when two RAF Tornado GR4s collided had a fear of flying at medium level, air accident investigators have said.

The weapon systems operator was in the rear seat of a jet with a student pilot when it collided with another aircraft over the Moray Firth in 2012.

A report said the airman's condition did not directly cause the accident, but was probably a factor.

Another factor was the lack of anti-collision equipment on the jets.

In its report, the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) said there was "much opportunity for this mid-air collision to be prevented".

It noted that there was no collision warning system (CWS) on board the Tornado fleet.

A system has been recommended for many years but installation was repeatedly delayed.

The report said it was unfortunate that this "final safety barrier" which would have made the crews aware of their close proximity did not exist.

Tornado GR4 The accident involved two Tornado GR4 aircraft

The MAA indentified 17 contributory factors and seven other factors in the accident on 3 July 2012.

Contributory factors included poor weather conditions, "ineffective supervision" at squadron level of the aircraft involved and "shortcomings in the management process".

Another factor was that there had not been a formalised and effective care plan for the weapon systems operator (WSO) with the fear of flying at medium level.

While not named in the report, the WSO is understood to have been Sqn Ldr Samuel Bailey, an experienced instructor who had previously served in Iraq.

He had sought help for his condition, the MAA report said.

In April 2012, the WSO said he had reached a "crisis point" and "could not face flying".

He was diagnosed with a phobic anxiety disorder. The WSO stopped flying for a time, before returning to the cockpit.

The report said on the day of the accident, the jet he was in made a "rushed" descent to low level and this was done in "marginal weather" conditions.

While there was no evidence that the WSO's anxiety affected his decision-making, the report said his decisions were "not commensurate with his recognised experience and professional standing".

line
  • Between 1979 and 2001 there were 42 separate mid-air collisions involving RAF aircraft.
  • 40 lives were lost and 47 aircraft - including 12 Tornados - destroyed.
  • Since 2001, there have been nine mid-air collisions involving UK military aircraft.
  • Among the 17 people who died in those incident, three were air cadets.
line

An onboard collision warning system would have helped to prevent the Tornado GR4s from colliding, air accident investigators said.

Equipment designed to help fast jet pilots avoid mid-air collisions was recommended in the late 1990s.

A system with a total cost of £53.46m was approved for installation in October 2012 and a contract for the work was awarded in December that year.

The rollout of the equipment is due to be completed by this year.

The MAA said, at the time its report was written, there was no requirement for the RAF's new Typhoon and F-35B to be fitted with CWS.

The Ministry of Defence said the recommendations contained in the MAA report were being implemented.

F-35B The RAF's new F-35B aircraft was not required to be fitted with a CWS, the MAA warned

The crash happened over the Moray Firth, off the coast of Sutherland, near Helmsdale.

The crews were on separate training missions at the time and were headed for a firing range at Tain in Easter Ross when they collided.

Bangor-born Flt Lt Hywel Poole, 28, Sqn Ldr Samuel Bailey, 36, from Nottingham, and Flt Lt Adam Sanders, 27, who grew up in Lancashire, died.

Sqd Ldr Paul Evans, from RAF Lossiemouth, survived but was badly injured.

The MP for Moray, Angus Robertson, said the report was extremely distressing for the families involved, and "damning" for the MoD.

He said: "It finds the collision warning system would have prevented this tragic accident - a system which has been tested and recommended for the Tornado for over 20 years.

"It catalogues unacceptable delays, poor decision making and communication.

"There is now an overwhelming public interest case for a fatal accident inquiry."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Highlands & Islands

Weather

Inverness

15 °C 13 °C

Scotland Live

  1.  
    Super Sharp 10:02:
    Lynsey Sharp, Commonwealth 800m silver medallist

    Scotland's Commonwealth 800m silver medallist Lynsey Sharp tells BBC Radio Scotland: "I got a message from someone on Facebook today saying 'I don't think you'll appreciate the effect you've had on the country'. To hear stories like that is amazing. I've had a chronic infection in my foot as a result of surgery.

    "Also, I was in the clinic in the Athletes' Village until 5.30 yesterday morning throwing up. I was on a drip. I literally had three hours' sleep. I had porridge and scrambled egg so I was running on zero but I managed to pull it out the bag. What made it so much more special was being able to pick people out in the crowd - friends, team-mates, friends' parents.

    "During the medal ceremony I made a point to look around and take it all in. I will watch it back to hear just how loud the Hampden Roar was."

    Rangers fan Sharp also reveals she hopes to be invited on to the pitch at Ibrox, possibly with Hearts supporter Eilidh Child, another silver medallist, when the teams meet in the Championship.

     
  2.  
    Blair and Bankier lose semi 09:41:

    It's disappointment for Scotland's Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier, the third seeds, as they lose to top seeds Chris and Gabby Bancock of England in the mixed doubles. The score was 21-14 21-14.

     
  3.  
    Weather outlook 09:37:

    Thicker cloud and rain in the south will extend steadily northwards this morning and afternoon, to give many places a spell of wet weather today. G

    However, the far northwest mainland and Northern and Western Isles should stay dry and some drier weather is possible across the southeast later this afternoon.

    It will become rather windy along the west coast by the afternoon.

    And rather cool everywhere, with highs of around 16 or 17C.

     
  4.  
    Pressure mounts 09:33:

    Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier are under pressure in the badminton mixed doubles. They lost the first game to their big rivals and trail 15-11 in the second.

     
  5.  
    Trading places 09:17:

    Edinburgh's Robert Blair used to partner both of his English opponents today, while Glasgow's Imogen Bankier used to play mixed doubles with Chris Adcock.

    Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier Scots mixed doubles medal hopes Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier are in action against top English pair Chris and Gabby Adcock at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow's East End
     
  6.  
    Badminton tension 09:09:

    Anyone with an interest in badminton will want to watch the mixed doubles match between Chris and Gabby Adcock of England and Scotland pair Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier. Ah, but there's so much more to this match. A place in the final is up for grabs, it's Scotland v England...and the respective pairings aren't the best of pals.

     
  7.  
    Fantastic gymnastics 09:04:

    There was giddy excitement this morning as two Scotland tracksuited athletes sporting big medals came into BBC Scotland's offices in Pacific Quay. Gymnasts Dan Keatings and Daniel Purvis spoke to Kenny Crawford on BBC Radio Scotland about their marvellous achievements.

    Keatings, whose father was born in Edinburgh, said: "I never expected to do so well so to come away with two silvers and a gold. You want to see your friends and team-mates do well and it was great to see Daniel Purvis win the gold. There was disappointment when I didn't get selected for the Olympics but I sat down with my coach and came up with a plan."

    Purvis, whose mother's family hail from Dundee, won gold in the parallel bars on Friday. He said: "To come away with a gold and a silver is just fantastic. To make history with the first team medal (for Scotland) it feels like a repeat of the Olympics."

     
  8.  
    Travel update 08:48:

    My colleague Victoria Lumsden is in the traffic hot seat, calmness personified when all around is chaotic. She has these words for motorists and Commonwealth Games-goers to consider...

    In Aberdeenshire, the northbound A90 outside Stonehaven near Muchalls Bend remains closed following an accident early this morning. Diversions are via Netherlee Road.

    On the M8 between Edinburgh and Harthill, heavy rain is causing surface water and poor visibility so slow down and take care. It's especially bad between junction 2 Claylands and 4 Whitburn.

    And in Glasgow, it's probably best to leave your car at home today because a very busy day is expected on the roads and public transport. Around 130,000 people are expected at six Commonwealth Games venues. It's getting busy now at Scotstoun and at the Emirates Arena, so leave plenty of time for your journey.

     
  9.  
    08:40: Keir Murray

    Good morning and a very warm welcome to BBC Scotland's live coverage of what's happening around the country today.

    We'll have news, traffic reports and weather but our main focus will be on the penultimate day of the Commonwealth Games, with Scottish athletes in action in badminton, squash, boxing, diving, powerlifting and athletics.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CupcakesExpensive bites

    From five-figure cannoli to water that costs a year's salary - Discover ten of the world’s priciest treats

Programmes

  • Narrow boats on Regent's Canal, LondonThe Travel Show Watch

    Explore London’s industrial past on a narrowboat trip along the atmospheric Regent’s Canal

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.