Air Show Plane Crash: Pilot Error and Insufficient Event Organiser Risk Assessment

Pilot errors and ineffective measures to protect the public led to the deaths of 11 men when a vintage jet crashed on to a dual carriageway during the Shoreham air show, investigators say.

The Hawker Hunter jet crashed on the A27, destroying vehicles and bursting into flames on 22 August 2015.

A further 13 people, including the pilot Andy Hill, were injured.

In its final report on the disaster, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) listed a series of failings.

Mr Hill, 52, from Hertfordshire, was the subject of a manslaughter investigation by Sussex Police and interviewed under caution.

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On publication of the report into the disaster, AAIB principal inspector Julian Firth said: “The aircraft crashed because at the top of its aerobatic manoeuvre it was too low to complete it.”

The report said the pilot carried out the manoeuvre at less than maximum thrust.

It would have been possible to abort it safely at the apex of the loop but Mr Hill had not been trained in the escape manoeuvre which might have got him out of trouble.

Emergency services working on the A27 in the aftermath of the disasterImage copyright PA
Image caption The jet came down on the busy A27 dual carriageway

The AAIB also found the severity of the outcome of the crash was due to “an absence of provisions to mitigate the effects of an aircraft crashing in an area outside the control of the organisers of the flying display”.

The report said the risk assessment “was not suitable and sufficient to manage the risks to the public”, and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) did not require to see or approve risk assessments before issuing a permission to hold a flying display.

The report makes a series of safety recommendations including that airshow organisers must conduct suitable and sufficient risk assessments, and pilots must tell organisers what manoeuvres they will carry out and where.

The AAIB also recommends that pilots should be trained in escape manoeuvres, and that displaying aircraft are separated from the public by a sufficient distance to minimise risk of injury to the public.


Plane wreckage being taken to the AAIB for investigationImage copyright South Coast Press Agency
Image caption Investigations by the AAIB led to 21 safety recommendations

Both the AAIB and CAA have already published a series of interim reports looking at the findings from the crash scene and implications for air displays around the UK

An AAIB report in September 2015 found the jet showed “no abnormal indications” during its flight.

But a further report in December said the aircraft had expired ejector seat parts and an out-of-date technical manual.

In March last year, the AAIB said organisers of the Shoreham air show were unaware of the pilot’s display plans.

Safety measures at all UK civil air shows were enhanced following the disaster and the CAA said it had reviewed every aspect of air display safety.

The AAIB made 21 safety recommendations which were all accepted by CAA this year.

 

Original source: BBC News. ESS cannot be responsible for external weblinks

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