Two RAF air marshals had accused Flight Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook of gross negligence over the crash on the Mull of Kintyre in which they died along with 27 other people. Many of the passengers were among Britain's leading anti-terrorism experts.
The apology came after a fresh review found that Tapper and Cook should not have been blamed and the earlier ruling has now been set aside.
Alan Reid, Lib Dem MP for Argyll and Bute, has welcomed the setting aside of the original verdict:
"So many people – friends and family of the pilots, my predecessor Ray Michie, and others – campaigned for many years to overturn the original verdict which found the two young pilots, who died doing their duty, guilty of gross negligence.The setting up of the new inquiry was announced by Nick Clegg when he took prime minister's questions on 8 September 2010.
"This review is long overdue. Where the previous Labour government stalled and obstructed, the Coalition Government has ensured that justice has been done.
"I hope that today’s report and conclusions will help many people to put this horrible accident behind them and I join them in remembering and paying tribute to all those who passed away on that disastrous day.”