Crow hampers RAF electronic warfare drills in North Sea

WILDLIFE hampered police or military operations in the United Kingdom for the second summer running after a humble carrion crow foiled RAF electronic warfare manoeuvres in the North Sea, the Sentinel has learned.

Thursday, 13th June 2013, 10:58 am
A carrion crow foiled RAF electronic warfare drills in the North Sea.

Last year the Sentinel reported how a PSNI spotter plane crashed into runway lights at Aldergrove after a sortie in the Londonderry area on a night of fierce republican rioting over the Twelfth in 2011.

The officers on board the plane thought they might have hit a hare on the runway.

The repair bill ultimately came to £200k (30 per cent of the cost of a new plane.)

Now the Sentinel can reveal how last August, a commercial aircraft on its way from Durham Tees Valley Airport to simulate electronic warfare for the RAF in the North Sea, was forced to abort take off by a crow.

A newly published report by the Department of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) reveals the Cobham Leasing Limited. plane was carrying two crew and a single passenger when the accident occurred on August 9, 2012 at around 9.15am.

According to the report the commander and co-pilot of the Fan Jet Falcon 20E G-FRAI, reported for duty at 7.45am at their company offices at Durham Tees Valley Airport together with an “electronic warfare officer who was to fly with them that day.”

“On reporting they were informed that they had been tasked that morning to simulate electronic threats for RAF aircraft training over the North Sea,” the report reveals.

However, this soon had to be aborted after the pilots noticed a bird on the runway.

After standard calls were made prior to take off “the commander became aware of a large bird standing close to the runway centreline about 250m ahead of the aircraft.”

The report continues: “The bird was seen to take off and fly along the runway, away from the aircraft, before turning around and flying back down the runway towards the aircraft.

“The bird passed down the left side of the aircraft, sufficiently close that the commander considered a birdstrike inevitable.

“He was concerned that this result in damage to the control surfaces or an engine and so he

called ‘bird, aborting,’ retarding the thrust levers whilst applying full brakes and then deploying the airbrakes.”

The two pilots subsequently hit the brakes but it wasn’t enough to prevent them overrunning the landing strip.

“The wheels of the undercarriage sank into the soft ground, quickly bringing the aircraft to a halt,” the report explains.

The airport authorities, local council officials and fire crews were soon at the scene.

“There was no fire, although fire crews reported that when they arrived there had been smoke or steam coming from mud, which had become caked between each pair of main wheels.

“The mud was removed from the brake units to assist with brake cooling,” the report explains.

Mud and stones were found inside the engines but no bird was discovered there.

However, the remains of a single carrion crow, weighing approximately 1lb, were recovered from the runway.

“The crow was largely intact and showed no evidence of having been ingested by either of the aircraft’s engines.

“No witness mark from a bird impact was visible on the aircraft, although it may have struck the landing gear with any impact marks having been subsequently obscured by mud,” the report explains.