Pilot of helicopter in Scottish crash queried restrictions


THE pilot of an RAF Chinook helicopter which crashed into a Scottish mountain, killing all 29 people on board, had previously queried with senior officers two restrictions on the helicopter's operations, the inquiry in Scotland heard yesterday.

The new aircraft, which had only arrived in Northern Ireland two days before the accident, was restricted to a maximum weight of 18,000 kg the maximum weight on which it could fly with one engine and could not fly in temperatures below 4 C. The former restriction limited the fuel load.

Flight Lieut Jonathan Tapper, one of the two pilots on the day the helicopter crashed, had sought advice from senior officers at RAF Odiham, a former RAF loadmaster, Mr John Coles, said yesterday. Flight Lieut Tapper had been told by those officers that any pilot breaking the two rules would be held "personally liable".

The pilot had specifically queried the low temperature ruling because in the weather forecast for the North that day, it would have given the crew "very little option to pull up into cloud" if the temperature dropped below 40 C. said Mr Jones.

The helicopter crashed into a mountain on the Mull of Kintyre while flying from Belfast to Inverness, killing 25 elite security personnel and the four man crew.

The inquiry continues today.