‘ Faults’ on Afghan death copter
FAMILIES of fi ve servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan yesterday told an inquest “mechanical failings” may have been to blame.
The men died when their Lynx helicopter plunged into the desert on a training fl ight near the Pakistan border in April 2014 in “the best conditions for fl ying”.
Captain Thomas Clarke, 30, Warrant Offi cer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner, 38, and Corporal James Walters, 36, of the Army Air Corps died alongside reservist Lance Cpl Oliver Thomas, 26, of the 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion, and RAF Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, 29.
A service inquiry
said the pilots may have been trying to simulate the feeling of weightlessness just before impact.
But lawyers for the families say that a radar altimeter, known as a Radalt, failed to trigger an alarm when the helicopter dropped below 25ft above the ground.
The court heard the helicopter descended 25ft in half a second before crashing. A harrowing recording revealed WO Faulkner from Reading, Berks, shouting: “Pull up, pull up, pull up”, moments before the fatal impact.
Michael Rawlinson QC, representing WO2 Faulkner’s family at Oxford Coroner’s Court, said: “We have all heard the tape and all say we cannot hear the alarm. If it cannot be heard then the inference arises about the mechanical integrity of the Lynx.”
Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter agreed that he could not hear the alarm, adding: “It could be there and it could be a case of the quality of the recording, but the court will proceed on the basis that it cannot be heard – it is not there.”
But Group Captain Jason Appleton, who was head of the service inquiry, told the inquest: “It can be heard just after Faulkner shouts.”
Earlier the inquest heard that WO2 Faulkner was on his last tour before retiring aged 40 after 22 years service.
In a statement his widow, Cally, said: “This would have been his last operation.
“He was a true professional. He was very much a family man.”
The inquest was told the men died “very rapidly” from multiple injuries and the effects of fi re.
The Afghan campaign has seen a total UK death toll of 454.
Capt Clarke, was from Tiverton in Devon, Cpl Walters, from Alton, Hants, Flt Lt Chauhan, from Cropston in Leicestershire, and L/ Cpl Thomas from Brecon, Powys.
The inquest resumes today.