Coroner Rules That Helicopter Had Not Been Properly Maintained
A helicopter that crashed killing two SAS soldiers had not been properly maintained, Herefordshire Coroner David Halpern has ruled.
It was "inexplicable", he said, that a faulty anti-spill fuel valve on the RAF Puma had not been checked for almost 30 years.
He said that it had been a relevant factor in the death of one of the two men, named as Corporal Lee Fitzsimmons and Sergeant John Battersby.
Despite that, he said, the primary cause of the crash-landing near Baghdad in November 2007 had been pilot error.
Recording narrative verdicts, he said he believed Sgt Battersby, 31, from Lancashire, died before the fire took hold, while Cpl Fitzsimmons, 26, from Peterborough, died from a severe head injury and inhalation of fumes.
Mr Halpern criticised the failure to foresee the risk of the valve "sticking" when an aircraft rolled over, a failure to fit display night-vision goggles to the Puma prior to the crash, and not enforcing a policy for personnel to use restraints in aircraft.
Copyright © Press Association 2009
Andrew Buckham from law firm Irwin Mitchell's Armed Forces specialist team currently represents a soldier injured in this helicopter accident. He said: " This is a sad and tragic accident resulting in the death and serious injury of Service personnel. I would hope that the MoD will immediately implement any recommendations made by the Coroner to ensure that similar types of accidents do not happen in the future."