Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Air authority set up after Nimrod crash

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A new independent military aviation authority is to be set up following the fatal crash of an RAF Nimrod, the defence secretary has announced.

The organisation will begin regulating military aviation activities from next April, Bob Ainsworth said in a Commons statement on 16 December 2009.

The decision comes after a critical report into the Nimrod disaster which killed 14 men in Afghanistan in 2006.

Two senior air force officers named in the report are being investigated by RAF police, Mr Ainsworth added.

An inquiry into the crash of the Nimrod three years ago found that it was caused by a fuel leak and was "preventable".

The Defence Secretary also said a review was under way into contract conditions between the Ministry of Defence and industry.

"I regret enormously the death of those on the XV230, and apologise for the part my department played in failing to prevent that," Mr Ainsworth said.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox welcomed the government's response to a report he described as "the most damning we had ever seen".

For the Liberal Democrats, Nick Harvey welcomed the creation of the MAA and the tone of Mr Ainsworth's statement.

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