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Controller's defense blames lead pilot in Scotland crash

An RAF air traffic controller accused of causing the death of two American pilots, whose F-15C aircraft crashed into a mountain in Scotland in March 2001, broke no regulations and could not have foreseen the tragedy, a court-martial in Scotland heard Thursday.

According to a report in The Scotsman, Michael Jones, the lead defense attorney for Flight Lt. Malcolm Williams, placed the blame entirely on the lead pilot and questioned the justice of finding Williams guilty of a crime.

Williams is facing charges that he contributed to the deaths of Lt. Col. Kenneth Hyvonen and Capt. Kirk Jones. He is also charged with professional negligence. The two pilots from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England, were killed when their fighters crashed on a snow-covered mountain.

Testimony in the trial, which was to continue Friday at a Royal Navy base near Glasgow, has accused Williams, 47, a 20-year controller, of telling the pilots to fly below the safe minimum altitude.

Defense testimony has placed the responsibility for flying at a safe altitude on the pilots. Williams is said to have offered the two Americans an alternate route to reach their training location, but he was ignored.

The case is being heard by a panel of six senior RAF officers assisted by a judge advocate.


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