The inquest into the deaths of 14 servicemen, who were killed when their RAF Nimrod MR2 XV230 crashed in Afghanistan on 2nd September 2006 is being presided over by Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker. These notes may be helpful to the interested observer...
This graph can be found in the online reports of the Board of Inquiry Into The Accident Involving Nimrod MR2 XV230 here )Click to enlarge)
Elswhere it is worth noting ..
64 Observations - the Board observed that :
b. Changes to RAF Kinloss management structure as a result of Project trenchard removed the SO1 engineer (OC Engineering Wing) from the station structure. Engineering personnel are now distributed betwen the station's 2 remaining wings under non - specialist leadership : QR 649 responsibility is delegated to a squadron leader. Both operational and engineering witnesses ( Witnesses32,33,34 ) believed this change had a negative effect on availability.
c. Service training course were perceived by a number of witnesses( Witnesses32,33,34 again ) no longer to impart the skill of hand and depth of knowledge necessary to maintain an aircraft built around a design pilosophy now some 40 years old. This combined with a taultly manned engoneering establishment and recent outflow of skilled personnnel has led to an effective dilution of engineering skills ....
Witnesses 32/33/34 are identified elsewhere (unnamed) as Operation Wing , Kinloss. Nimrod Line Squadron, RAF Kinloss and Logistics Support Wing and Depth Support manager , Nimrod IPT , RAF Kinloss
In a letter from Group Captain J B Kessell, Station Commander (date not known) commenting on the Board of Inquryies findings it is worth noting ....
6.a RAF Kinloss Management Structure. The Kinloss managment structure has now been revised to include an SOI engineer. This individual now commands the Station's Forward Support Wing and holds QR 640 responsibilties.
A BBC Online Report in December 2007 ..."A worker at RAF Kinloss has revealed that technical faults still happen regularly on the Nimrod fleet, BBC Scotland has learned. " is also worth reading. Westminster SNP group leader Angus Robertson MP whose Moray constituency is home to the Nimrod fleet at RAF Kinloss is quoted ..."There are, however, a host of unanswered questions about the safety of the ageing Nimrod fleet as a whole which the Ministry of Defence must answer..... "I have sent Secretary of State Des Browne 15 key questions about Nimrod safety which must be answered if confidence is to be restored."
It is worth noting he raised a Parliamanetary Question of the Secretary of State for Defence how many Nimrod Line personnel at RAF Kinloss (a) requested premature voluntary redundancy and (b) took redundancy in 2006; and how many have done so in 2007. He received a written answer on Monday, 10 December 2007 that Nimrod Line personnel who left the RAF under redundancy terms was 5 in 2006 and 10 in 2007. he has also persistently raised question about Nimrods at Kinloss which can be reviewed here.
He also participated in the recent debate about Afghanistan (28th April 2008) rasing the report from Quinetiq produced in March 2006 about the Nimrod fleet (ie before the Afghan accident). This was reported on by the Times on April 13th 2008 after Jimmy Jones, the Nimrod trials engineer obtained the report under Freedom of Information legislation, and is headed " Des Browne misled MPs on Nimrod"
Amongst many other matters the Times stated that The QinetiQ report found that during air-to-air refuelling fuel was flowing at twice the speed deemed safe for vital parts of the fuel system. It also showed that a light on the flight engineer's panel that would flash if there was too much pressure in the fuel system had been deliberately disconnected.
BBC Online report at (10/11/07) stated ..."Qinetiq's findings, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, make it clear that the team had grave misgivings about the equipment and methods used to identify and repair fuel leaks on an aircraft under huge operational pressure.
The highly detailed Qinetiq report speaks of the sealant used to maintain joints on wing panels "peeling like masking tape". It describes repair teams having to use out-of-date manuals and equipment, and the "considerable loss of expertise and experience as trade specialists have left the team".
The QinetiQ report highlighted a shortage of skilled RAF engineers at Kinloss, caused in part by an increased use of civilian contractors and in part by defence cuts.
"There no longer exists an in-depth knowledge of working on the Nimrod aircraft," the QinetiQ report said.
It was just then when Defence Secretary Des Browne announced that Charles Haddon-Cave QC will lead the independent review to examine the findings of the Board of Inquiry into the crash of Nimrod XV230 in Afghanistan, September 2006.
Should be a fascinating inquest .. but don't hold your breath.