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Grob Tutor (Service Inquiry)

Volume 515: debated on Tuesday 14 September 2010

I wish to inform the House today of the findings of the Royal Air Force service inquiry into the loss of Grob Tutor, G-BYXR, on 14 June 2009 in Oxfordshire. Tragically, the volunteer reserve pilot, Flight Lieutenant Mike Blee, and Combined Cadet Force (CCF) cadet, Nicholas Rice, were killed. Our deepest sympathies remain with their families and friends.

The purpose of a service inquiry is to establish the circumstances of the loss and to learn lessons from it; it does not seek to apportion blame. The service inquiry was convened on 15 June 2009 and has now presented its findings. The service inquiry found that on the afternoon of the 14 June 2009, Grob Tutor G-BYXR, departed from RAF Benson, to conduct an air experience flight for the CCF cadet. The aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision with a civilian standard Cirrus glider. The civilian glider pilot parachuted to safety with only minor injuries.

The service inquiry was able to identify the sequence of airborne events and concluded that the cause of the accident was the controlled flight of Grob Tutor G-BYXR into the glider. Five contributory factors were identified including the medical condition of the pilot and supervision arrangements. The RAF has apologised privately to the bereaved families for the shortcomings in its supervisory processes and I wish to restate that apology today.

The service inquiry panel made a total of 18 recommendations primarily relating to procedures, equipment and training. Twelve of these recommendations have already been implemented and the remaining six recommendations are under active consideration.

A redacted version of the inquiry findings will be placed in the Library of the House today. It will also be made available on the MOD internet site and can be found by following the link below: