Airworthiness delegation

In his Nimrod Review, Mr Charles Haddon-Cave QC characterised the early-mid 90s as the 'golden period of airworthiness'. In doing so he ignored the irrefutable evidence, preferring to protect, especially, Air Chief Marshal Michael Alcock. Below is an example of the Letters of Delegation Alcock issued; in this case, to one of his Directors of Support Management (DSM). In it, he says:

'If you or your staff become aware of any circumstance, practice or procedure which casts doubt on the airworthiness or safety of any of the aircraft or engines for which you are responsible, you are to take immediate action to restore the situation. In addition, you are to keep me informed of any significant airworthiness or safety matter concerning the aircraft under your authority'.

First of all, you will notice the wording does not permit the recipient to report failings affecting OTHER aircraft. When Alcock's staff reported systemic failings (affecting ALL aircraft) they were ignored. If the failure was systemic, by definition the delegated officer could not 'take immediate action to restore the situation', because he had no authority to do so.

The implication is that only Alcock could make the judgement as to whether the failures were systemic. Yet, had he made such a judgement, he would be seen to criticise both himself and his predecessors. That is, he was permitted to sit in judgement of himself. The record shows he not only oversaw systemic failings, but exacerbated them.

My to Lord Philip's Mull of Kintyre Review described in detail the formal notifications to this very line management chain by civilian staff holding airworthiness delegation.

One must study what action this delegated officer's immediate superior (Director General Support Management, Air Vice Marshall Chris Baker) took at this time (1992) if airworthiness failures were notified to him.

In December 1992, he visited these staff in St Giles Court, London (accompanied by two Air Commodores) and, over the course of an entire day, summoned seven staff and issued warnings of dismissal should they continue with their complaints that money was being knowingly wasted, and compensatory savings being made at the expense of safety. This constituted bullying and harassment - which, admittedly, is not an offence in MoD; as stated by successive Ministers and Heads of the Civil Service.

This was precisely the policy confirmed by Haddon-Cave, but despite being offered the same evidence as Lord Philip he attributed it to 1998. In doing so, he diverted attention from the true timeframe, protecting those responsible; but worse, blaming entirely innocent officers.

9.1 Letter of Airworthiness Delegation - RAF Chief Engineer (Alcock) to DSM.pdf