Pilot Errors Led To Shoreham Aircrash

A final report in to the Shoreham airshow disaster shows the pilot made errors that caused the crash.

A report into the Shoreham Airshow disaster shows the pilot of a Hawker Hunter vintage jet started his stunt too slowly and too close to the ground.

11 men died when it hit the busy A27 in Sussex on the 22nd August 2015, 13 others were injured.

A final report has been released 18 months after the crash.

Bryony Waite Reports: 

Chief Inspector of Air Accidents Crispin Orr:

“The AAIB has now completed an independent and thorough investigation. Our report explores why the aircraft crashed, why the consequences were so severe and, most importantly, what can be done to prevent a recurrence.

“We found confusion around who was responsible for managing the risks at flying displays in the UK, which meant that there were inadequate controls in place to protect the public from the hazards of display aircraft.

“We made 21 safety recommendations in our three interim reports and are making a further 11 safety recommendations in the Final Report today. These safety recommendations are intended to make flying displays safer for the participants, for the public attending the show and for those going about their daily lives in the surrounding areas..”

Principal Inspector Julian Firth, who led the investigation team, said:

“My team of seven investigators has worked full-time on this investigation for the last 18 months.

“We looked in detail at the operation of the aircraft, factors influencing human performance and wider organisational issues. We conducted dozens of interviews, reviewed hundreds of documents and undertook a series of flight tests. Using all of the information available to us, including expert studies commissioned from specialist organisations throughout the country, we formed a comprehensive picture of the tragic events of the day and an understanding of what would be necessary to improve safety.

“This accident was devastating and traumatic for the families and friends of the 11 men who died. Our thoughts continue to be with them as we publish our final report.”

Organisers of the Shoreham air show said it was unlikely they will stage ''the same or similar style event'' in the future.

Colin Baker, one of the Shoreham air show directors, said: ''The report clearly confirms that a series of errors by an experienced and fully authorised pilot were the cause of the tragic crash on August 22, 2015.

''The Shoreham Airshow has been an important part of the local community for 26 years, raising over #2 million for charity.

''The organisers always worked hard to ensure the event was both safe and successful.

''Our main aim in 2015 was to do just that, but there are findings in the report that will require further analysis and reflection.

''The report also contains important recommendations for the CAA, as well as the wider air show industry, and these must be noted carefully.''

Rebecca Smith, an aviation lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing some of the victims, said the crash was ''a disaster waiting to happen''.

She said: ''The AAIB investigation and report has been central to the families' desire to establish the truth as to what happened. They finally have some answers, which is clearly a relief.

''The overwhelming concerns which remain are the lack of adequate safety regulations which were in place before the accident together with the failure of the organisers of the air show to implement existing CAA procedures which were in force at the time.

''Tragically, it appears that this was a disaster waiting to happen and one that could have been avoided.

''It remains a significant disappointment that 18 months after this tragedy occurred, many of the recommendations made by the AAIB to improve the safety of future air shows have still not been implemented by the CAA.

''The CAA has stated they may not be in a position to complete aspects of their investigation until 2018.''

Caroline Schilt, the mother of Jacob Schilt, who died along with fellow Worthing United player Mr Grimstone as they travelled in a car to a game, said she was happy with the AAIB's investigation.

But she said questions still hang over the circumstances leading up to the death of her 23-year-old son, which hopefully an inquest will answer.

Mrs Schilt said: ''As far as the AAIB is concerned we are happy, but we still have questions because we haven't yet had the inquests.

''The AAIB has given us as a very comprehensive and factual report of their investigation, and we are happy with that. A huge amount of work has gone into it.

''But there are still questions and they are ones for the coroner, and she is still waiting for all the inquiries to finish before she can go further.''

Some reacted angrily to the AAIB's disclosure that pilot Andrew Hill had not had formal training to stop the loop manoeuvre which led to the crash and had not had his competence to do so assessed.

Nino Vydeenaden, 22, a friend of victim Matt Jones, 24, said: ''It's going to anger a lot of people. If the pilot had not had formal training to stop what he was doing, then he shouldn't have done it.

''I think it's ridiculous. I know the AAIB doesn't want to point the finger at anyone, but if he had not had formal training to stop that manoeuvre then he shouldn't have flown the plane.

''The pilot is going to have to live with that. And now the families are going to be thinking that it could have been prevented. People are going to be furious.''

Mr Vydeenaden, who had known Mr Jones for around five years, said the last 18 months had been a struggle for the community in Shoreham.

''Everyone has found it difficult and it's still very raw,'' he said. ``It shook the town. Matt was a fun-loving character who got on well with everybody, and he was genuine.

''What you saw with Matt was what you got.''

East Worthing and Shoreham Conservative MP Tim Loughton said the report identified ``clear failures'' in risk assessments and risk controls that should have been operating at Shoreham.

Mr Loughton called for a ''swift decision'' by the police and CPS on whether any legal action should take place, for the sake of the victims' families.

He said: ''It is clear from the report that the aircraft was in a perfectly serviceable condition and had no obvious mechanical faults which would have inevitably resulted in the crash.

''Therefore it will now be up to the police investigators to determine whether any criminal act has been committed and who, if anybody, is culpable of having not taken action which might have prevented this accident.

''It is important to remember that the safety record of civilian air shows in the UK is an impressive one and this tragedy represents the first loss of civilian life on the ground since the Farnborough air crash back in the 1950s, but the report identifies clear failures in risk assessments and risk controls that should have been operating at Shoreham and for whatever reason were not doing so as effectively as they might have done.''

The Rev Terry Stratford, associate priest of St Mary de Haura Church in Shoreham, where some of the victims' families gathered before the first anniversary of the disaster, said the report does not bring final closure.

He said: ''The report may say how and why but of course we have still got inquests to be held and the possibility of a criminal prosecution.

''This may go on for some time until every avenue has been exhausted. This is just one part. Although it is a very important part, we still have some way to go.''

To read the full report from the AAIB: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/aircraft-accident-report-aar-12017-g-bxfi-22-august-2015


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