British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said he has sent written apologies to the families of Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook, the Belfast Telegraph reported. The two flight lieutenants were among the 29 people killed when the Chinook helicopter slammed into a mountainside on the Mull of Kintyre in southwest Scotland.
An earlier report blamed Tapper and Cook for "gross negligence." But a Scottish investigation said the cause of the crash was still unknown, and in April it was revealed that British defense officials had had doubts about the safety of Chinooks before the crash.
The helicopter, with a crew of four, was carrying 25 passengers from Northern Ireland to a conference in Inverness. Those on board included senior intelligence officers in Northern Ireland.
Families of some of the passengers joined those of the pilots to campaign for a re-examination of the crash.
"This confirms what the campaigns have said all along -- blaming the pilots was unjust and they didn't do anything wrong," said Ann Magee, who lost her husband Kevin.