Angus Robertson seeks Nimrod safety answers

The Westminster SNP leader Angus Robertson MP, who represents the home base of the Nimrod fleet RAF Kinloss, has demanded a safety update on the aircraft.

His letter to Defence Secretary Des Browne follows a Coroners Inquest recommending that the fleet be grounded owing to safety concerns in the wake of the tragic loss of Nimrod XV230 in Afghanistan.

Last week Mr Browne confirmed in writing to Angus Robertson MP that not all safety requirements for the Nimrod aircraft had been implemented.

Now Mr Robertson has asked for a status report from the MOD to establish which safety requirements had been implemented, which have not and when they will be completed.

Speaking about his call for an update Mr Robertson said:

“Despite the findings of a Coroner the Ministry of Defence has decided not to ground the Nimrod fleet and Ministers say they are satisfied with safety arrangements.

“They have said this although they know that the risk levels to the
aircraft are not as low as is reasonably practicable.

“The MOD must now confirm which of 30 key safety recommendations have been implemented in full, which have not and when all safety measures are scheduled to be completed in full.

“Defence Ministers must get a grip of the situation and restore confidence in their own assessments.

“The talented and hardworking military and civilian staff at RAF Kinloss and their families deserve better leadership and management from the MOD.

In his letter Mr Robertson writes;

Many thanks for your letter of 19th May 2008 relating to the QinetiQ report Nimrod Fuel System Safety Review Report dated October 2007 which was recently released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Under the rules of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), for an aircraft to be safe the risk must have been ‘reduced to a level that is ALARP (as low as is reasonably practicable) and broadly acceptable or tolerable’.

According to the QinetiQ report only half this condition was in place in the Nimrod fleet – while the risk associated with the aircraft was
tolerable “the level of risk present to the fuel system is not ALARP”.

In your letter you confirmed that: “Of the 30 safety recommendations contained in the QinetiQ report: 21 have been accepted and are being implemented; 3 are being considered for implementation and a further 6 are on hold as they relate to Air-to-Air Refuelling. Following the leak incident on Nimrod XV235 on 5 November 2007, all Air-to-Air Refuelling on the Nimrod fleet was suspended. This suspension remains in force”.

Please could you make a status report on all 24 recommendations which do not relate to Air-to-Air refuelling? How many have been implemented in full already? When specifically do you expect the remaining recommendations to be implemented in full?

The answer to these questions will be of relevance to the independent review into the broader issues surrounding the loss of the Royal Air Force Nimrod MR2 aircraft XV230 in Afghanistan on 2 September 2006 being conducted by Charles Haddon-Cave QC and I have sent him a copy of this orrespondence.

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