Page last updated at 19:43 GMT, Monday, 9 March 2009

Father welcomes Nimrod groundings

Oliver Dicketts
The parents of Oliver Dicketts said that he loved the Army

The father of a soldier from Kent who died in a Nimrod crash in Afghanistan has welcomed an announcement that any unmodified planes are to be grounded.

L/Cpl Oliver Dicketts was one of 14 servicemen who died when a Nimrod plane came down near Kandahar in 2006.

The Ministry of Defence said the RAF's Nimrods would be withdrawn on 31 March to replace engine bay hot air ducts.

"We are obviously very delighted - I am feeling quite emotional about it," said L/Cpl Dicketts's father Robert.

The accident which killed his son happened shortly after air-to-air refuelling when leaking fuel came into contact with a hot air pipe.

At an inquest into the 14 deaths last May, coroner Andrew Walker said the surveillance aircraft had "never been airworthy".

The inquest heard a design flaw led to the Nimrod exploding after a fuel leak.

The coroner called for the fleet to be grounded but Defence Secretary Des Browne insisted they were safe to fly.

'Not safe'

Mr Dicketts said the decision to ground the planes, announced on Monday, was a vindication of all the families' efforts.

"It is something that we have been after for some time, especially since the coroner's verdict," he said.

"We have always felt those planes were not 100% safe but, luckily, nothing else has happened.

"Action should have been taken immediately after the coroner's report.

"Finally, at long last, action has been taken."

L/Cpl Dicketts grew up in Wadhurst and his family now lives in Horsemonden.

Mr Dicketts said he was sure all the families of the servicemen who died would be delighted the planes were to be grounded.

"We greatly miss our son but we have become very firm friends with the other families and we are very supportive of each other," he said.

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