A Tornado jet crash off the west coast of Scotland which left two RAF crewmen in hospital and destroyed the £13m plane was caused by an engine fire and failure, a report has concluded.
A pilot and a trainee weapons systems officer from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray were carrying out a training exercise in their Tornado GR4 before they were forced to eject over Loch Ewe, near Gairloch, Wester Ross, on January 27, 2011.
Coastguard and lifeboat crews were scrambled to the scene and the two men were airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, suffering from minor injuries.
Video footage (shown above) was posted on the YouTube video site showing the plane flying over the Western Isles before it came down.
The Military Aviation Authority report highlighted failings in the crew’s response and in some of their training. However, the investigation concluded there was no “intentional lack of professionalism by the crew”.
The investigation stated the plane dropped a practice bomb over Tain Air Weapons Range after departing RAF Lossiemouth.
Following the weapon practice, the crew reported hearing a “loud machine-gun-like noise” from the right-hand side of the plane.
The pilot understood the problem to be an engine surge and, after struggling to control the aircraft, he decided to shut down the right engine.
As he did this, the left engine of the tornado caught fire. The pilot initially attempted to divert his plane to Stornoway and tried to restart the right engine, but eventually decided to initiate the ejection procedure and ditch the plane.
A four-day salvage operation was subsequently launched to gather the wreckage. Around 70% of the plane was eventually recovered by boat.
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