HC Deb 07 October 1942 vol 383 cc1228-9W
Sir R. Glyn

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the circumstances of the accident to the Sunderland aircraft on passage to Iceland in which His Royal Highness the late Duke of Kent was a passenger?

Sir A. Sinclair

The circumstances in which the tragic accident occurred have now been investigated by a Royal Air Force court of inquiry, and the sequence of events was as follows:

The aircraft, which was proceeding from a Royal Air Force Station in Scotland to Iceland, was airborne just after 1 o'clock in the afternoon of 15th August. Before departure, the correct procedure for briefing the captain as to the exact route to be followed and for providing full information about the weather conditions likely to be encountered, was complied with. Local weather conditions were not good at the time of the take-off but the general indications showed a likelihood of improvement to the westward. The captain of the aircraft was a flying-boat pilot of long experience on the particular type of aircraft which he was flying that day, and of exceptional ability. About half an hour after take-off the aircraft was heard approaching land from the sea at what appeared to be a low height, and shortly afterwards it was heard to crash into the hills.

The court found: First, that the accident occurred because the aircraft was flown on a track other than that indicated in the flight plan given to the pilot, and at too low an altitude to clear the rising ground on the track; secondly, that the responsibility for this serious mistake in airmanship lies with the captain of the aircraft; thirdly, that the weather encountered should have presented no difficulties to an experienced pilot; fourthly, that the examination of the propellers showed that the engines were under power when the aircraft struck the ground, and fifthly, in accordance with K.R. & A.C.I., paragraph 1325, that all the occupants of the aircraft were on duty at the time of the accident. The Chief Inspector of Accidents is in agreement with the findings of the court.