The family of a Bradford man who died in a plane crash following a misunderstanding between air traffic control and a plane’s crew have criticised an inquest into his death.
The inquest at Bradford Crown Court had heard that an early ground proximity warning system was misunderstood by the crew, either due to language problems or because of previous false alerts.
“There was communication between airline crew and air traffic control on the ground, and a misunderstanding took place as to whether the aircraft should have been descending.”
However Jim Morris, a barrister representing the families, said that the inquest had not fully analysed the evidence surrounding the case and had applied to the coroner for an adjournment while investigations into the air traffic controller were made available.
However Mr Cameron declined to adjourn and recorded accidental death verdicts for Mr Saville, as well as Christopher Carter, 51 and David Taylor, 28, who were also on board the jet.
The families of all three men said they were “disappointed” and “angry” that the coroner would not allow the adjournment.
The inquest heard that crew on the plane contacted air traffic control to ask for permission to descend shortly before the crash.
The air traffic controller asked the crew to maintain their current altitude but the plane began its descent in bad weather into a mountainous area about 12 miles from Kabul.
Mr Cameron said the air traffic controller could have warned the crew they were descending too quickly and “into danger”.
He said: “There was communication between airline crew and air traffic control on the ground, and a misunderstanding took place as to whether the aircraft should have been descending.
“Quite why this misunderstanding first took place is difficult to ascertain from the evidence.
“It’s clear that the misunderstanding between the air traffic control and the aircraft crew is also a cause of that incident.”
Afterwards Chioma Ibe, Mr Saville’s partner, said: “We are disappointed that five years on we have no closure, no answers and no apology. I feel let down by the coroner who did not assist in including important evidence.”
Mr Morris, who is a partner in the Irwin Mitchell aviation law team and a former RAF pilot, said the families would continue their search for answers.
Cases are currently being litigated in the United States against Midwest ATC, the company providing the air traffic control service at the time of the crash, and Honeywell, the manufacturer of the aircraft’s ground proximity warning system.
Mr Morris said: “The families were devastated at losing their loved ones over five years ago and we have been fighting for answers and justice for them ever since.
“The primary evidence at the inquest was an accident report published by the Afghan government, which received significant assistance from the US civil aviation assistance team for the accident investigation.
“Unfortunately, it is our view that the accident report does not sufficiently analyse the full chain of events and may reach a flawed conclusion as to the probable cause, namely that it was the failure of the captain to maintain adequate clearance from terrain.
“Following our extensive investigations into the accident, we believe that confused communications between the captain of the aircraft and air traffic control played a major part in causing this tragedy, leading to a descent being initiated too early which put the aircraft on a collision course with the mountain.
“The families are now hoping that the emerging evidence will help shed further light on the chain of events that caused the loss of their loved ones and we will continue to fight for justice on their behalf.”