04 April 2012

Commission of Inquiry appointed to look into the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan

The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, announced today that he has appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the crash of an Australian CH-47D helicopter in Afghanistan on 30 May 2011, in which Lieutenant Marcus Case was killed.

Lieutenant Case was deployed to Afghanistan as a Heron Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Payload Operator. He died when a CH-47D helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan.

Following the accident, the Chief of Army ordered an Aviation Accident Investigation for the purpose of identifying any aviation safety issues arising from the crash.  That investigation was finalised in December 2011.

Defence considered the Aviation Accident Investigation Report, and as a result, the Chief of the Defence Force appointed a Commission of Inquiry to examine broader issues associated with the helicopter crash and the death of Lieutenant Case. This includes aspects that were not covered by the technical airworthiness investigation but that may have implications for Australian CH-47D operations.

The Aviation Accident Investigation Report will help inform the Commission of Inquiry. The ADF is withholding the Report from public release.

Andrew Kirkham AM, RFD, QC will preside over the Commission of Inquiry. Mr Kirkham is a civilian barrister with military experience.

In addition to the President, the Commission of Inquiry will comprise two members with substantial Defence aviation experience, Brigadier William Mellor DSC, AM (Ret’d) and Group Captain Stephen Fielder AM.
The Commission of Inquiry will be an open inquiry. However, the President is permitted to close aspects of the hearings if necessary.

Members of Lieutenant Case’s family have been briefed on the findings of the Aviation Accident Investigation into the crash and will be able to attend the Commission of Inquiry if they wish to do so

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