Concerns have been raised about the safety of RAF Marham’s Tornado jets after it emerged more than 360 
“near misses” have been logged since 1998.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Calls have been made for a special system to avoid collisions to be installed in the GR4 aircraft, after the scale was revealed by the Ministry of Defence in a parliamentary question this week.

The figures, from 1998 to 2013, show that there were 361 “airprox” events involving Tornado jets, of which at least 46 were deemed to have had an actual risk of collision, and at least eight involved two Tornados.

Last year two Tornados from RAF Lossiemouth collided above the Moray Firth, killing three personnel and seriously injuring a fourth.

Pilots or controllers have to flag up an airprox incident when the distance between aircraft, as well as their relative positions and speed, could have compromised the aircraft safety.

But a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Air proximity incidents are extremely rare in comparison to the millions of flights in UK airspace every year.

“Tornado pilots, like all military aviators have multiple mitigation measures in place that reduce the risks of mid-air collisions.”

The MOD has said before that a specifically designed Tornado collision warning system, which will be another tool for pilots to use, is currently being trialled, and will be in service in next year.

South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said she would be raising the issue with the Ministry of Defence.

“Any near misses are of great concern. The safety of the crew is paramount.

“I will be speaking with the MOD to fully understand the situation and ensure all is being done to protect 
our brave service personnel,” she added.

The figures, which were exposed by Westminster Scottish National Party leader and defence spokesman Angus Robertson, whose Moray constituency is also home to Tornado jets at RAF Lossiemouth, said the MOD had committed to a collision warning system for Tornado jets in 1998, but they had still not been installed.

He added: “These statistics on aircraft near-collisions are truly shocking. Fast jets and their crews face particular training and operational risks, but the MOD has a duty of care to provide potential life saving equipment like collision warning systems.”

The figures in the table include the Tornado F3 fighter aircraft fleet, which have since been withdrawn from service.






Classifieds, browse or search them online now

The Canary magazine
Order your copy of The Canary magazine