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Transport / MP urges HIAL to release confidential report

Aircraft stacked up at Kirkwall airport on Tuesday morning. Photo Gary Robinson
Kirkwall airport.

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has written to Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) calling on the operator to release an internal report into an incident at Kirkwall Airport last April in which a Loganair plane with 33 people on board took off without air traffic control support.

The incident, first reported by Shetland News, led to investigations by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as well as HIAL itself.

HIAL and Loganair have both insisted that there had been no breach of rules or aircraft safety, but the CAA identified a number of areas that needed further action.

However, it is not known what these ‘areas’ are since neither report has ever been made public despite numerous attempts by politicians and media organisations to get access.

Carmichael has now repeated his request for the release of the internal HIAL report after under-secretary for transport, Paul Maynard, suggested in a recent debate in parliament that the airport company might be prepared to do just that.

The MP said he was concerned that not publishing the report would undermine public trust in local aviation.

“There is a clear public interest in this issue, as demonstrated by the significant local media coverage in past months,” Carmichael wrote in a letter to HIAL on Monday.

“I believe that the release of HIAL’s report, or a public statement on your part regarding its conclusions, would be to the benefit of public confidence in aviation safety in the Northern Isles.

“I hope that you will give this matter your most urgent and serious attention in order to bring the matter to a proper conclusion.”

However, a similar request by Shetland News two weeks ago was rebuffed by HIAL saying investigations of this kind needed to stay confidential to ensure “the highest standard of safety”.

A spokesman said: “As with other HIAL investigations, the report content relating to the events that occurred at Kirkwall Airport is shared with HIAL staff and their representatives.

“We do not publish investigations reports as we must ensure our people can report, investigate and provide information for the investigation into any incidents in a confidential way and in line with our Just Culture.

“We would like to reassure anyone concerned that HIAL has fully investigated the incident and lessons learned shared in line with our procedures.

“The Civil Aviation Authority also investigated the incident and has confirmed it is satisfied that appropriate action has been taken.”