Prince gives up flying royal aircraft after Hebrides crash

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The Independent Online
The Prince of Wales has given up piloting royal flights following his crash in the Hebrides last year in which a Queen's Flight passenger jet was damaged to the tune of pounds 1m.

St James's Palace announced the Prince's decision yesterday as an RAF board of inquiry found that the aircraft's captain had been negligent in allowing him to take the controls.

Prince Charles was not blamed because, despite holding the RAF rank of group captain, he was regarded as a passenger who was invited to fly the aircraft. The inquiry can pass judgment on the crew.

It was not in dispute, however, that the Prince was at the controls of the BAe 146 when it landed awkwardly and too fast in high winds on the Isle of Islay last June, slewed off the Port Ellen runway and came to a halt with its nose buried in mud. Six crew and five passengers were on board but no one was injured.

The RAF report into the accident, released in the House of Commons yesterday, concluded the jet was flying 32 knots (40mph) too fast when it crossed the runway threshold. Only 509m (557yds) of the 1,245m-long (1,362yd) strip remained when all the aircraft's wheels touched down, causing a tyre to burst and another to deflate.

The captain, Squadron Leader Graham Laurie, was negligent "in the final stages of the flight". Although he still flies with No. 2 Royal Squadron, he may no longer act as an instructing or supervising pilot.

t The Queen is to attend her first full service in a Roman Catholic church, it emerged yesterday. She has been invited by Cardinal Basil Hume to an ecumenical service at Westminster Cathedral on 30 November to mark its 100th anniversary.

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