Tornado Aircraft

Defence written question – answered on 25th February 2014.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence

(1) what steps were taken in respect of recommendation 95 in the Tornado Airworthiness Review Team Report Table of Recommendations, Action Officers and Status Notes dated 5 February 1998;

(2) what safety issues were identified in recommendation 95 of the Tornado Airworthiness Review Team Report Table of Recommendations, Action Officers and Status Notes dated 5 February 1998 regarding the Tornado's ejection seat.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I will write to the hon. Member shortly.

Substantive answer from Philip Dunne to Angus Robertson:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Questions on 10th February 2014 (Official Report, column 473W) about recommendation 95 of the Tornado Airworthiness Review Team report.

The Tornado Airworthiness Review Team report was produced circa 1996 and, although information on the recommendations made by the Review Team remains extant, despite a thorough search, we have been unable to locate a copy of the full report.

In the absence of the report, it is not possible today to re-identify the specific issue in the ejection seat that recommendation 95 was intended to address. What is clear is that by March 1998 the issue had been satisfactorily addressed and this had been briefed to the relevant RAF personnel. Recommendation 95 was considered closed, as were all of the recommendations arising from the Tornado Airworthiness Review. This, together with the passage of time since 1998, may explain why no copy of the report has been retained.

I should add that in the 18 years since the Tornado Airworthiness Review Team reported, the Mk10 ejection seat has been the subject of a mid-life upgrade programme, in the late 1990s, and an extensive modification programme from 2007 to 2010 that introduced many improvements. The Mk10 ejection seat in its current configuration is much improved as compared to 1996. As you are aware, further improvements are now being made as a result of the tragic accident to Flt Lt Sean Cunningham in November 2011.

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