Air crew 'seduced by speed'

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The Independent Online
An RAF crew who crashed into the Mull of Kintyre with the loss of 29 lives may have been "seduced" to their deaths by the speed of their newly-delivered Chinook Mark II helicopter, the inquiry into the accident was told yesterday.

They may have known they were close to the Mull but chose the wrong rate of climb to clear it, a wing commander who headed the RAF board of inquiry into the tragedy said. They may have done so partly because of tiny navigation errors, and partly because of a "mindset" which made them think the Mull was to their right, and not directly ahead of them.

But he told the inquiry he did not consider them negligent - and the exact cause of the accident had not been established.

The wing commander, whose name is being withheld on security grounds, told the hearing at Paisley, Strathclyde: "I believe they knew they were in close proximity to it. My own personal belief is they were seduced by their high ground speed in an aircraft flying some 20 to 25 knots faster than they would be accustomed to."

He said the board of inquiry findings were based on "logical argument" based on limited evidence in the absence of a cockpit voice recorder, survivors or eyewitnesses. Although there must be an element of "speculation", it was the likeliest scenario.

The inquiry continues today.