BAE Systems and QinetiQ were cited in a report published today that claims the Ministry of Defence put cost-cutting before safety, leading up to the crash of an RAF Nimrod spy plane in 2006 in which 14 servicemen died.
A report authored by specialist aviation lawyer Charles Haddon-Cave today accuses the two British companies and the MoD of disregarding human safety and functional values in favour of a culture of cost-cutting and keeping within budgets. This culture culminated with an unsatisfactory safety review of the ageing Nimrod MR2 fleet in 2004, the report maintains. This was despite a 1998 report recommending “highly attentive” safety checks for the aircraft. In 2006 the 37 year old Nimrod XV230 crashed in Afghanistan shortly after a mid-air refuel, killing the 14 servicemen.
BAE’s safety report was said to be “riddled with errors” which were subsequently not picked up by QinetiQ which was acting as an independent supervisor.
The organisations are accused “incompetence, complacency and cynicism”.
As well as the improper safety procedures carried out by BAE, Haddon-Cave said the company had built up “a wall of denial and obfuscation” since the event.
Haddon-Cave said BAE Systems holds “substantial responsibility” for the tragic event and QinetiQ “a share of the responsibility.”
He singled out three BAE officials and two from QinetiQ for blame in particular.
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said any personnel in the wrong should be “looking at their positions”.
Summarising, Haddon-Cave said: “In my view, XV230 was lost because of a systemic breach of the military covenant brought about by significant failures on the part of all those involved. This must not be allowed to happen again.”
BAE Systems and QinetiQ are yet to comment on the findings of the report.