Sea King Helicopters

Defence written question – answered on 11th February 2004.

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Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence

(1) pursuant to his answer of 29 January 2004, Official Report, column 505W, to the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), on Sea King helicopters, what assessment he has made of the need for fleet-wide night vision capability since the collision;

(2) what assessment he has made of whether senior officers are satisfied that there was no malfunction of equipment during the exercise;

(3) what (a) lights and (b) equipment were not permitted for use on this occasion that are permitted in normal night-time flying conditions;

(4) what experience the crews of the two helicopters had had of flying in these conditions in respect of (a) use of radar, (b) use of radio, (c) lighting, (d) restricted vision and (e) restricted flight path;

(5) whether the crews of each helicopter had radio communications with Mission Control on board HMS Ark Royal;

(6) what recommendations from the Board of Inquiry report have been acted upon by his Department;

(7) whether the crews of each helicopter had a radar surveillance and advice warning from Mission Control on board HMS Ark Royal;

(8) what assessment of rules and procedures for night flying senior commanders (a) had made before the mission and (b) have made since the mission;

(9) whether both Sea Kings had been permitted radio contact with (a) each other and (b) HMS Ark Royal throughout the exercise;

(10) what other helicopters were operating in the area;

(11) how many sorties each helicopter had completed before the accident; and whether they had reported difficulty with (a) flying conditions, (b) restricted vision, (c) restricted flight path and (d) malfunction of equipment.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence

I will write to the hon. Member with the information he has requested, and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

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