Wigan crash pilot had no warning system

Flight Lieutenant Adam Sanders
Flight Lieutenant Adam Sanders

A REPORT into a mid-air crash that killed an RAF pilot from Wigan said his plane was missing a vital piece of equipment which could have prevented the tragedy.

Flight Lieutenant Adam Sanders, 27, was one of three airmen who died in the tragic accident over the Moray Firth, Scotland, in 2012.

An investigation by the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) found there had been “much opportunity for this mid-air collision to be prevented.”

In its report, released yesterday after an 18 month probe into the circumstances leading up to the incident, the MAA said the cause was “a lack of recognition of converging flight paths.”

It added that no collision warning system (CWS) was in operation on board the Tornado fleet although the equipment had been recommended, but then delayed, for years.

Flt Lt Sanders grew up in Parbold and was a devoted Wigan Athletic fan. The club paid tribute last year when parents John and Lynn were granted a charity collection day at the DW Stadium to raise funds for the RAF benevolent fund.

A picture of Flt Lt Sanders hangs near to the stadium’s trophy cabinets.

Shortly after the accident, Latics captain Emmerson Boyce said: “He was clearly a young man with a bright future ahead who was dedicated to what he did.”

One of the three airmen, a weapon systems operator, was said to have been suffering from an anxiety disorder of flying at “medium level height” and had “reached a crisis point” in the months before.

He had returned to service after medical checks and the MMA investigation concluded that there was no evidence that the WSO’s anxiety affected his decision-making. The jet he was in had made a “rushed” descent in “marginal weather.”

The report also stated 17 contributory factors to the accident, including the poor weather conditions in the Moray Firth at the time. “Ineffective supervision” of the aircraft and “shortcomings in the management process” were also cited.

Flt Lt Hywel Poole, 28, from Bangor, Sqn Ldr Samuel Bailey, 36, from Nottingham, along with Flt Lt Sanders died in the collision. Sqd Ldr Paul Evans suffered serious injury. The two crews were on separate training missions at the time.

A rollout of CWS equipment is expected to completed later this year, the Ministry of Defence said.