Thunder & Lightnings

Test Flying Memorial

"...and everywhere the
blue sky belongs to them
and is their appointed rest
and their native country"
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CasualtiesMr Michael Charles Harland
AircraftPanavia Tornado GR.4 ZA554
Took off fromRAF Marham, Norfolk
Purpose of flightPost maintenance test flight with BAE Systems crew.
Incident locationEgmere, Norfolk
Incident detailsDuring a loose article check - an inverted portion of the test flight - at 5,900 ft and 400 kts, the navigator/WSO's ejection seat fell from the aircraft due to an incorrectly installed Top Latch Plunger. The canopy MDC detonated automatically as the seat moved, and the seat headbox then struck the base of the vertical fin, being damaged to an extent such that the parachutes could no longer function correctly, and likely killing the occupant at that point. The navigator was later found still attached to the seat, having suffered fatal injuries. The pilot went on to land the aircraft safely.
Web linkBoard of Inquiry report

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