Daily Archives: 16 December, 2009

MOD announces new aviation safety authority

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has today announced the creation of a new military airworthiness authority to ensure aviation safety standards are of the highest order at all times.

The Military Aviation Authority (MAA) has been created as part of the MOD’s full response to the Nimrod Review by Charles Haddon-Cave QC following the deaths of 14 service personnel onboard Nimrod XV230 on 2 September 2006. The MAA will include an independent body to audit and scrutinize air safety activity, and will be in place by 5 April 2010.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said: “I am grateful for the detailed proposals the Nimrod Review has made. We have examined these proposals thoroughly for the past seven weeks and we are already taking action to implement them, including the creation of the Military Aviation Authority to provide the leadership needed to deliver the highest safety standards. This is the most radical reform to MOD’s airworthiness procedures since military aviation began”.

The new authority sounds encouraging, and hopefully will take airworthiness considerations out of the sole hands of the services themselves, who are so hamstrung by lack of investment that tragic accidents like this are sadly all too possible. Will it be just another bolted-on authority within the Ministry of Defence, another job for another senior officer with a bloated staff retinue?

The problems go beyond safety itself, but extend to the culture of the Ministry of Defence. The procurement of quality equipment, from boots to warships, is low on the agenda, as is maintenance. All too frequently the forces have had to retire ships or aircraft early that were facing extensive repair bills or expensive upgrades.

The new body is also in line with recent moves to streamline the organisation of assetts across the three services, particularly air assetts. We already have the Joint Force Harrier and the Joint Helicopter Force. As I have already reported recently there are extraordinary politics regarding military aviation, with the RAF protective of its independence and resenting the Fleet Air Arm and the Army Army Air Corps, but unwilling to support the Navy or the Army as much as it could.


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The Sun ‘Millies’ awards 2009

The excellence of the Armed Forces and supporting civilians were recognised last night at the second Sun Military Awards, organised by The Sun newspaper in close association with the Ministry of Defence.

Their Royal Highnesses The Princes William and Henry of Wales were guests of honour at the event held at the Imperial War Museum, London, on Tuesday 15 December. They were joined by military Chiefs, senior government and political figures, and stars from the worlds of entertainment and sport to pay tribute to these unique individuals.

The ceremony, including unique footage of shortlisted individuals and teams on operations, plus reconstructions of the acts of heroism that were nominated, will be televised on Monday 21 December at 9pm on ITV1.


1. Overcoming Adversity Marine Ben McBean, 40 Commando Royal Marines, Plymouth, Devon

2. Most Outstanding Sailor or Marine Able Seaman Medical Assistant Kate Nesbitt MC, attached to 1st Battalion The Rifles, Plymouth, Devon

3. Most Outstanding Soldier Corporal Mark Powis MC, 1st Battalion The Rifles, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset

4. Most Outstanding Airman Flight Lieutenant John Walmsley, RAF Odiham, from Edinburgh

5. Best Reservist Able Seaman Edmund Grandison, HMS Forward, Royal Naval Reserve, from Tyseley, Birmingham

6. Support to the Armed Forces The town of Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire

7. Life Saver Award Corporal Carl Thomas, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, Liverpool

8. True Grit Home Acting Chief Petty Officer David Rigg, Royal Naval Air Service, Culdrose, Cornwall

9. True Grit Overseas Sergeant Andrew McNulty, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, Catterick, North Yorkshire

10. Best Unit The 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, Ballykinler, Northern Ireland

11. Judges’ Award for Special Recognition
Joint Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group
Afghan Heroes

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