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Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK


Second Harrier crash sparks safety fears

The pilot ejected seconds before the aircraft burst into flame

The Ministry of Defence says there is no need to ground Harrier jump jets despite the second crash in the space of five days from the same air base.

The pilot of an RAF Harrier GR7 ejected to safety, moments before his plane crashed and burst into flames near Cornhill on Tweed, Northumberland on Wednesday afternoon.

He is not believed to be seriously injured but has been taken to Melrose Hospital, across the Scottish border in Galashiels.

Seconds after the pilot ejected, the £25m aircraft crashed on open land and exploded in flames.

Two RAF mountain rescue teams are at the scene, and senior officers have begun an investigation into the cause of the crash.

The jump jet had been based at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland.

Happy landings

Last Friday an RAF Harrier also based at Cottesmore crashed near Boston, Lincolnshire. The pilot also made a successful ejection from the aircraft.

An RAF spokesman said on Wednesday: "We are not going to panic, and we are not going to ground any planes."

He said it was too early to say what caused the latest crash but said there was no reason to assume it was linked to last week's accident.

The spokesman said: "Investigators will talk to the pilot to try to find out what went wrong from his point of view, and a Board of Inquiry will be set up."

RAF Cottesmore is home to 3 and 4 Squadrons, which fly 12 Harriers each.

The planes were at the heart of the recent Nato air bombardment of Serbia.

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