• March 13, 2010

The skies over Mann, north Wales and south-west Scotland will become a little safer with the news this month that the British airforce, the RAF, has started to phase out obsolete B Ae Hawk T1 trainer aircraft.

The aircraft, which operate extensively over the north Irish Sea area, use a base at Valley in Anglesey and also utilise the civil airport at Ronaldsway on the Isle of Man for simulated landing and take-offs.

The type has an appalling safety record and over the years over 20% of the RAF’s operational aircraft have been lost in accidents, including a number of aircraft crashes and forced landings on Anglesey and the Isle of Man. Safety problems have been endemic and on one occasion the entire RAF fleet was grounded for a period.

Several years ago a safety report into an accident at Shap in Cumbria called for safety systems to be upgraded by the fitting of a radar altimeter and a GPWS (ground proximity warning system).

However, although pressed by the Celtic League to adopt the modifications the English Ministry of Defence rejected the calls. Last year English Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth said the safety modifications could not be “deemed cost-effective”. (See link below):


The RAF has now started to introduce the new derivative of the Hawk (the T2) which will have the safety upgrades recommended years ago as standard and will operate from Valley.

Meanwhile older Hawk T1 aircraft without the safety modifications will continue to operate and pose a risk for sometime yet.

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