Tue, 15 Mar 2011
Adam Farrer, a practising barrister at No5 Chambers who specialises in personal injury work / inquests and is on the Attorney General’s Civil Panel, represented the RAF/MoD at an inquest into the death of two RAF air cadets and two RAF pilots whose Grob Tutor training aircrafts collided with each other in mid-air over Bridgend in February 2009.
The inquest in Aberdare was held before Powys Coroner Peter Maddox, who recorded a narrative verdict.
The inquest heard that the two teenage air cadets, Katie-Jo Davies and Nikkita Walters, were on different RAF ‘air experience flights’ with RAF pilots Hylton Price (a retired Wing Commander) and Flight Lieutenant Andrew Marsh. The two Grob Tutor aircrafts took off about 5 minutes apart from RAF St Athan near Porthcawl, shortly before the incident, which has been the subject of investigations by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, South Wales Police and the Ministry of Defence.
Both pilots relied on the normal flying technique of ‘see and avoid’ during the flights, whereby they visually checked the surrounding airspace for other aircraft. However, the inquest heard how tragically, due to a combination of factors coming together, such as the white colour of the aircrafts, the position of the sun and the field of vision from the cockpits, the pilots did not see one another. Coroner Mr Maddox recorded in his Narrative Verdict that the RAF had done all it reasonably could have done to keep cadets and pilots safe during training flights. Since the incident the RAF has acted on a safety recommendation to fit a collision warning system to its fleet of Grob Tutor aircraft.