Navigator killed in RAF Tornado tragedy

The navigator of an RAF Tornado has been found dead after he ejected from the aircraft on a test flight over Norfolk earlier tonight.The Ministry of Defence said the man left the aircraft during an 'inverted roll' over Norfolk at about 4pm.

The navigator of an RAF Tornado has been found dead after he ejected from the aircraft on a test flight over Norfolk earlier tonight.

The Ministry of Defence said the man left the aircraft during an 'inverted roll' over Norfolk at about 4pm.

A spokesman said the man's body was found in a field near South Creake about 45 minutes later. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was one of two BAE Systems staff in the plane which safely arrived back at RAF Marham after the incident.

The plane was on a routine test flight after maintenance work.

BAE Systems holds a £130m contract for combined maintenance and upgrade work on the Royal Air Force's fleet of Tornado GR4 aircraft.

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Police, including helicopters, ambulance and the MOD were called to the scene now RAF Mountain rescue vehicles and an RAF Ambulance are at the site.

The MOD earlier refused to release any more details than that the Tornado had landed safely and that no other aircraft was been involved.

A spokesman for the MOD said: “We are looking into reports of an incident involving a Tornado aircraft being flown by a BAE Systems crew during an air test in the Norfolk area.

“The Tornado has landed safely at RAF Marham where it is based. No other aircraft was involved in the incident.”

BAE Systems said: “BAE Systems can confirm that an incident has been reported at RAF Marham involving a Tornado aircraft which was being flown by a BAE Systems crew.

“The aircraft has since landed at RAF Marham. No further details are available at this stage.”

The Eastern Daily Press understands the pilot did not eject himself.

And the BBC has reported hearing a tape of the controller talking to the pilot, who says that the navigator had ejected and that he did not see a parachute.

According to an RAF Marham website, to eject, a Tornado crew member activates the ejection seat by pulling the seat firing handle connected directly to a breech unit under the seat pan.

The ejection seat is mounted on the combined guide rails and telescopic ejection gun unit, which in turn is attached to the aircraft structure.

The ejection happens in just seconds with the crew member propelled from 0-160mph in a quarter of a second.

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