Crash inquiry begins

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The Independent Online
A harrowing picture of the RAF's worst helicopter crash in modern times will emerge today at the official inquiry into the Mull of Kintyre Chinook accident, writes John Arlidge.

Relatives of the 29 people who died in the accident will hear eyewitnesses describe the moment when the Chinook ploughed into a 1,400ft mountain in swirling mist and cloud on 2 June 1994. Local people and emergency workers will give evidence at Paisley Sheriff Court.

The inquiry will examine why the helicopter struck the mountain at high speed and without warning. Although an internal Ministry of Defence investigation said the pilots, Flight Lt Jonathan Tapper and co-pilot Flight Lt Richard Cook, were "grossly negligent", lawyers representing the two men and relatives of the other 27 victims say RAF investigators uncovered safety problems with Chinooks, including engine "flame-outs" and computer faults, just weeks before the crash.

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