Archive for March, 2017

For the second year running, the Shoreham Airshow will not be staged out of respect for the families of the eleven people who were killed when a vintage 1955 Hawker Hunter T7 (WV-372) jet fell to the ground during a rolling manoeuvre, destroying a number of vehicles and bursting into flames during the airshow on 22 August 2015.

The vintage jet aircraft crashed during a display at the Shoreham Airshow

The findings of an 18-month probe by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) to determine the cause of the crash and make safety recommendations to prevent similar incidents were published on 3 March,  and does not “apportion blame or liability”.

21 safety recommendations made by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have been accepted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which include a review into whether changes should be made to the minimum distance required between the public and display aircraft, and a review of guidance for air show organisers, including how they carry out risk assessments.

Flight trials carried out following the crash indicated that the pilot could have pulled out of the ‘loop the loop’ stunt up to four seconds after the aircraft reached the top of the loop, but that the pilot of the jet failed to achieve sufficient height. An investigation by Sussex police concluded in July 2016 that the pilot, Mr Andrew Hill of Sandon, near Royston, would be charged with possible endangerment pursuant to Article 138 (Endangering safety of any person or property) of the Air Navigation Order 2009 and also manslaughter by gross negligence.

Mr Hills’ display authorisation permitted him to carry out aerobatics at a minimum altitude of 500ft and the normal technique would be to enter the loop at an airspeed of at least 350 knots and use maximum engine thrust to achieve a height of at least 3,500ft at the apex, but he flew at just 185ft at a speed of just 310 knots, reaching only 2,700ft at the top of the loop. Mr Hills survived the impact when he was thrown clear from the plane during the crash, although he was in a critical condition. He was discharged from hospital the following month.

Cockpit footage during the flight showed Mr Hill “alert and active”, with no suggestion he had passed out, investigators said. Aviation specialists have speculated that Mr Hills may have become confused during the manoeuvre because he usually flew a Jet Provost, for which the height and speed would have been correct, being smaller and lighter than the Hunter.

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