MoD should introduce safety changes, says helicopter crash inquest

A coroner has recommended that the make a number of safety improvements after five service personnel were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, lawyers said.

Experienced WOII Spencer Faulkner died alongside Capt Thomas Clarke, Cpl James Walters, L/Cpl Oliver Thomas and Flt Lt Rakesh Chauhan when their Lynx mk 9A crashed in a valley in Kandahar province on 26 April 2014.

Coroner Darren Salter recommended that the MoD review manning levels and the impact this had service personnel as he delivered a narrative conclusion at Oxford coroner’s court, Irwin Mitchell solicitors said.

The coroner also said flight data recorders should be put into newer aircraft after concerns that a safety alarm had not sounded as the helicopter plummeted to the ground.

From left: Thomas Clarke, Rakesh Chauhan, Spencer Faulkner, Oliver Thomas and James Walters. Photograph: MoD/PA

Speaking after the verdict, families of those killed in the crash said they felt “let down” by the MoD and that “significant question marks” remained over what caused the accident.

The Thomas family said: “The Ministry of Defence, and those involved, had a duty of care to their employees and passengers, and in our opinion they did not provide Oliver with this by their failure to adhere to the rules and procedures set out, and as a family we feel very let down.”

Paying tribute, they added: “The last two years have been extremely difficult since the loss of Oliver, who was loving what he was doing in . He was highly respected by his colleagues and described as the ‘go to man’ doing an extremely difficult job for his country. His future was tragically taken away from him and us.

“As the coroner said, this was a case of controlled flight into terrain, due to lack of situational awareness and misjudgment of height.”

Clarke’s family said: “The tragic loss of Tom has left a hole in our lives which we will never be able to fill. Words cannot do justice to how much he meant to his family, friends and colleagues. Tom left a lasting impression on anyone who came into contact with him. His bravery, integrity and kindness were a mark of the man he was.”

The family said they would never know for certain what caused the tragedy, adding: “We recognised that his role in the Army Air Corps, as a helicopter pilot, could be dangerous, but he was always the consummate professional, whose flying and leadership skills were held in high regard by his peers and senior officers.

“There are still significant question marks over how this accident happened. Expert opinion has differed quite widely so we will never be certain as to the cause.” But they said they were satisfied that all that could be done to ascertain the cause had been done.

They welcomed the coroner’s recommendation that all military aircraft should be fitted with flight data recorders “to ensure lessons can be learned and future tragedies prevented”.

Source : theguardian[dot]com
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