AIR accident investigators have said that “pilot errors” led to the Shoreham Airshow disaster, The Sun reports. The tragedy saw eleven people killed when a vintage Hawker Hunter jet piloted by Andrew Hill, 52, failed to pull out of a loop-the-loop stunt on August 22, 2015.
The plane crashed in a fireball on the busy A27 in West Sussex, hitting vehicles and pedestrians. Since then an 18-month probe by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has taken place to determine the cause of the crash and make safety recommendations to prevent similar incidents.
Jet crashes in a ball of flame at Shoreham Airshow The report has determined that the Hawker Hunter failed to get enough height before pulling off a looping stunt.
The report reads…
- The pilot either did not perceive that an escape manoeuvre was necessary, or did not realise that one was possible at the speed achieved at the apex of the manoeuvre
- The pilot had not received formal training to escape from the accident manoeuvre in a Hunter and had not had his competence to do so assessed
- The pilot had not practised the technique for escaping from the accident manoeuvre in a Hunter, and did not know the minimum speed from which an escape manoeuvre could be carried out successfully
- A change of ground track during the manoeuvre positioned the aircraft further east than planned producing an exit track along the A27 dual carriageway
- The manoeuvre took place above an area occupied by the public over which the organisers of the flying display had no control
- The severity of the outcome was due to the absence of provisions to mitigate the effects of an aircraft crashing in an area outside the control of the organisers of the flying display
Incredibly Mr Hill survived the devastating crash, and is being investigated by Sussex Police for possible manslaughter. The 11 victims of the crash were personal trainer Matt Jones, 24 and his pal Daniele Polito, 23, who was travelling in the same car.
Worthing United footballers Matthew Grimstone, 23, and Jacob Schilt, 23, were travelling to a match when the plane came down on top of them.
Maurice Abrahams, 76, was on his way to pick up a bride for her wedding day when he died and Richard Smith, 26, and Dylan Archer, 42, were killed while on a bike ride to the South Downs.
Mark Reeves had taken a motorcycle to the edge of the airshow to take photos of the plane died along with Tony Brightwell, 53, who himself had learned to fly at Shoreham Airport.
The final two victims were 54-year-old Mark Trussler who was riding his motorcyle on the A27 at the time and retired engineer Graham Mallinson.
Sussex Police said it hopes to submit a file of material to the Crown Prosecution Service before the next pre-inquest review on June 20. Detective Chief Inspector Paul Rymarz said officers will now begin looking at the AAIB’s report with their independent experts.
He said: “We have been waiting some time for this report and it will take us some time to review. “Our progress has been dependent on this final report and as a result of the ruling in the High Court, much of the material contained in it has not been seen by the investigation team until now.
“We hope to do everything we can to submit a file of material to the CPS in advance of the pre-inquest review on June 20. “As we have said before, this is an extraordinarily complex investigation, but we remain committed to finding answers for the families and friends of those who died.”
The parents of victim Matthew Grimstone, 23, said today that the Civil Aviation Authority and the air show organisers “have got much to answer for”.
In a statement, they said: “Apart from anything that the pilot may have got wrong it is very evident the CAA and the Shoreham Air Show organisers have got much to answer for.
“Rules laid down by the CAA were quite clearly inadequate and those that were there were, in some cases, not fully adhered to by the air show organisers.” Families of the deceased were invited to attend a private face-to-face briefing on the AAIB’s final report yesterday.
Worthing United FC have a memorial wall featuring pictures of players Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, who died in the crash as they travelled in a car to play a home match.
Mark Sanderson, the club’s secretary and vice chairman, described them as “my boys”. He said: “They were firm favourites with the squad – Matt being a goalkeeper and Jacob an outfield player.
“They were signed up looking forward to the new season at the time when the crash happened. “For the rest of the season, it seemed to gel everyone, and there was a pretty strong bond.
“They were, as I have described them before, my boys.” 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.” Organisers of the Shoreham Airshow 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.