RAF crew ‘aware of crash plane prob­lems’

Western Daily Press - - News - ROD MINCHIN [email protected]­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

EX­PE­RI­ENCED RAF crew no­ticed prob­lems with a plane just days be­fore it suf­fered en­gine fail­ure and crashed, killing a test pi­lot, an in­quest heard.

Flight Lieu­tenant Alex Parr, 40, died when the Yak-52 civil­ian air­craft crashed dur­ing an emer­gency land­ing close to Din­ton airfield in Wilt­shire in July 2016.

Some pi­lots and flight en­gi­neers un­der­go­ing high-level train­ing at the Em­pire Test Pi­lots’ School dis­cussed the “un­ser­vice­abil­ity” of the plane, with some of the in­stru­ments not work­ing.

But the in­quest in Sal­is­bury heard that these con­cerns were not re­ported to staff who ran the school at MoD Boscombe Down in Wilt­shire.

Flt Lt Jim Good­ship, an RAF en­gi­neer, was taken up in the Soviet Union-de­signed plane by civil­ian pi­lot John Calver­ley just days be­fore Flt Lt Parr died.

He said he was in the rear seat of the plane, with Mr Calver­ley in the front seat in com­mand, and he no­ticed the RPM gauge, gyro hori­zon gauge and com­pass in his cock­pit were not work­ing as they tax­ied up the run­way.

“I can’t re­mem­ber his ex­act words, but the im­pres­sion I got was that his in­stru­ments were work­ing,” Flt Lt Good­ship said.

The wit­ness said he did not know whether the in­stru­ments in the front and rear cock­pits were di­rectly linked or not.

“It would have caused me more of a con­cern. I would have ques­tioned it a lot more. I would have wanted to sat­isfy my­self a lit­tle that he was ca­pa­ble of set­ting the RPM him­self,” he said.

“With­out the ben­e­fit of hind­sight I would have con­tin­ued the sor­tie. Ev­ery­thing else I was con­tent with.”

Flt Lt Good­ship was asked why he had not re­ported the faulty in­stru­ments, and he replied: “I as­sumed it may have been raised by some­one else.

“At that par­tic­u­larly point in the course, I was prob­a­bly strug­gling and I was un­der a lot of pres­sure.”

John Cooper QC, rep­re­sent­ing Flt Lt Parr’s widow Al­ice, asked him whether he thought there was “com­pla­cency” at the train­ing school.

“At the time I do not. At the time I would not have said there was a com­pla­cent at­ti­tude,” he replied.

He also re­jected the sug­ges­tion that by rais­ing con­cerns about the plane he would be seen as “pedan­tic or a wor­rier”.

“No, that thought never crossed my mind,” he said.

Flt Lt Leo Cheng, an RAF pi­lot, told the in­quest that dur­ing the ini­tial brief­ing on the Yak-52 fel­low stu­dents were in­formed that the gyro hori­zon gauge and pos­si­bly the GPS in­di­ca­tor were not work­ing.

“We were also told this air­craft was fully un­der the civil­ian per­mit to fly but you don’t need those in­stru­ments to be work­ing,” he said.

“It would be like get­ting into a car and the clock was not work­ing.”

He added: “It was com­mon knowl­edge among the stu­dents that the RPM was not work­ing.”

Flt Lt Parr, a mar­ried fa­ther-ofthree who lived in Marl­bor­ough, had been a pi­lot for 20 years and worked at the Em­pire Test Pi­lots’ School.

When he died he was a pas­sen­ger in the Yak-52 with Mr Calver­ley as the pi­lot in charge and safety pi­lot.

The in­quest con­tin­ues.

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