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Shoreham Airshow Crash Trial

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Shoreham Airshow Crash Trial

Old 1st Jul 2020, 10:37
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Stable doors and bolting horse

Originally Posted by GeeRam
And the selling and/or grounding of a number of vintage/classic aircraft as a result.
Interesting that least guilty party in all this (The Hawker Hunter) has to a degree been used as a scapegoat (to the public) when in fact it seems to have performed 'as required' and even ironically allowed the pilot to live**. This was quite convenient for the 'Authorities' as it diverted attention away from the authorities obvious lack of implementation of the system.
This is where the real problem lies. Even in 2014 there were layers of 'supervision' quite suitable to oversee Air Shows, and normal rules in place to ensure safety.
In the case of Shoreham these 'layers' had been eroded to the point that control of the 'system' was lacking, and mistakes not being picked up. Shoreham is as very 'tight' display arena and probably not really conductive to a high energy machine that is trying to stay within crowd vision, it therefore should have been part of the 'system' that the current rules of the time were observed back to the point of a DA being issued. The Stable Doors have now been firmly secured and indeed virtually nailed down ,which in itself was an over reaction to an 'in place systems' failure to exercise reasonable control.
** The Aircraft was not responsible for this dreadful accident.
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Old 1st Jul 2020, 15:06
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Originally Posted by Timelord
I canít believe we are still going round and round this debate. Surely everybody who has ever strapped into an ejector seat ( which excludes all of the lawyers and most of the doctors) and has read the AAIB report knows exactly what happened. He was no where near current or experienced enough in the Hunter to be displaying it in a confined area. He was signed off for displays by a few old mates and on the day screwed it up. Just like most of us have screwed up at some time but, by the grace of God, without these consequences.
Timelord I was one of the lawyers and have strapped myself into an ejection seat on a number of occasions. Even took the pins out and took it flying.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 00:11
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Originally Posted by Legalapproach
Timelord I was one of the lawyers and have strapped myself into an ejection seat on a number of occasions. Even took the pins out and took it flying.
Do you hold a PDA to display? Can you tell me why a man operating a machine and having full control of the machine at all times as AH had (in video evidence) and killed people escape any form of justice? If it had been a car, it would have been due care and attenion at least. CI is bull. If you had CI,the Hunter would have behaved like Jon Egging's Hawk. Unloaded and fallen out of it's manoeuver. It was criminal that the prosecution screwed up this case. I hope the jury at the inquest are not swayed by subjective arguement. There was back pressure on the control column of that aircraft the whole time. So much at the end as AH knew he had made a massive error. I am with BV in his views on this.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 06:36
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Cat Techie

You've seen and heard all of the evidence given in the trial then? In what way did the prosecution screw up the case? Was it in not calling you as an expert?

Last edited by Legalapproach; 3rd Jul 2020 at 06:51.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 08:28
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Lessons to learn

Two of the points in this case are:- Have the relatives really been given a true picture of the situation, and do they feel that some sort of closure is possible with the real lessons being learnt.
Have lessons been learnt that actually make sense to those in involved with the aviation world.
The display world is virtually a bubble within the overall CAA system, and this can be a positive factor with participants sharing experiences, maintaining good safe standards, and in the main this is how it worked. In this very sad case these 'standards' failed at several points, and what should have been check points in the entire process were lacking. If you do not recognise 'publically' that there were failings (not just on the day) then is a lesson learnt. With the charge bought the jury gave a sound judgement because they were only being offered a limited choice.
The 'system' was guilty in allowing this dreadful accident to occur when it failed to implement those regulations/checks designed to prevent such a happening, which went back to the DA issue, and continued to the oversight of the actual display. Display regulations are 'focussed' on crowd safety but when machines in use are utilising space outside of the normal circuit then the normal ANO regulations apply to protect the public at large. This of course should have been a factor in the 'suitability' part of display planning, and 'now' has had the effect of reducing the number of airshow venues.
If an inquest has the remit to explore 'all' the factors leading up to the event then at least the relatives will have a better understanding of how it could happen.


Last edited by POBJOY; 3rd Jul 2020 at 13:36.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 08:53
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Originally Posted by Legalapproach
Timelord I was one of the lawyers and have strapped myself into an ejection seat on a number of occasions. Even took the pins out and took it flying.
Legalapproach: I apologise and stand corrected. It doesnít change my views though.

TL
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 09:56
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Time Lord

Sorry to pick you up but I do get irritated that so many people make authoritative statements about facts or more particularly the evidence in a case (not you necessarily) when they are not in possession of all the facts and they are wrong.

Can I remind everyone that the trial lasted for about two months. The jury heard from numerous expert witnesses (on both sides) as well as eye witnesses and had access to a number of videos and reconstructions (most of which did not feature on the TV news and so will have been unseen by the armchair experts). In all the jury heard something in the region of 150 hours of evidence. That's why I become somewhat cross when I read so many people saying "I know what happened" "The jury got it wrong" The Prosecution was criminally negligent"

Everyone is entitled to their own view and I respect an opposite view if based on all and accurate relevant facts.

Cat Techie

You say AH was in 'full control' throughout.

Can you just remind me what the evidence was of the aircraft over the top and in the 3rd quarter of the loop?

Was that the evidence of all of the experts and in particular of the pilot expert witnesses who were present at Shoreham and who witnessed the flight?

Can you remind me, please of the medical evidence regarding oxygen de-saturation and the effect it has on (i) learnt motor skills, (ii) awareness and decision making capabilities?

In JE's case it was believed that he blacked out, in AH's it was at a lower level and produced symptoms similar to hypoxia. CI does not necessarily = unconscious. It's impairment not loss of consciousness.

If you are Norfolk based, when the world returns to normal I would be more than happy to meet up and talk through the evidence with you - I'm sure we can find a suitable hostelry. It's a genuine offer but be advised you're buying and I haven't had a decent pint of Adnams or Wherry for some months. You may or may not change your mind.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 13:08
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Legal Approach

Since you are in possession of all the facts could you please answer me a question.

What proof is there that AH suffered from oxygen desaturation whilst flying?

Is it a theory that he suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain whilst airborne or a medically proven fact?

Earlier I remember it was reported that he said he was not made aware, during his RAF service, of anti-G straining techniques.

This and several other things are where many of us take issue.

He was presented to the jury as a highly experienced pilot. Firstly, a highly experienced pilot of fast jet aircraft in the 21st century would be intimately aware of the effects of G.

Secondly, during his RAF service he completed roughly two flying tours before leaving to fly airliners.

We can surely agree that no matter how many airliner hours you get it will not improve your ability to fly low level fast jet aerobatics.

I would also suggest that someone who has completed two flying tours is not Ďhighly experiencedí. We all thought we were at that stage in our careers but to be honest what we all need at that stage is protecting from ourselves and our self perceived indestructibility.

If you now take that self professed flying expert and fast forward through 20 years of relative inactivity in the fast jet sense you do not have a recipe for perfection.

If you stuck me in an airliner for twenty years and then asked me to fly any single engine, swept wing fast jet trainer (similar to a Hawk) and asked me to fly displays in public I would not suggest that would be a great idea.

You are obviously a legal expert and I am not. AHís defence team did what they were paid to do and won their case.

Surely, as a result of that legal defence the only morally correct outcome from this case is to put a complete stop to all displays of privately owned fast jet aircraft (and probably any aircraft capable of sustained high G).

All those that leapt to the defence of AH and his outstanding experience will need to accept that in doing so they may have brought an end to the thing they love so much.

Iím not suggesting they should have thrown him under the bus but the cat is now out of the bag and youíll struggle to get it back in.

If I, as a currently serving fast jet pilot, am saying that I will not go anywhere near a display of such aircraft how would a discerning member of the public feel?

In summary, you say it annoys you that people question the outcome of the trial but you are more than happy to question the experience of many highly experienced people. People who have formed their opinions over many 1000ís of hours of flying fast jet aircraft.

We can all accept that AH was not criminally negligent. What we are struggling to accept is why he was displaying a Hunter on that fateful day.

BV

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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 14:19
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I don't think that the defence had to prove CI, just show that it was a possible explanation, sufficient for the jury to have reasonable doubt that the charges against AH were untrue. The burden of proof is for the prosecution to show that manslaughter and endangering an aircraft took place. The prosecution failed to show that convincingly to the jury.
This was an adversarial event not an inquiry. In my opinion AH did not win so much as the prosecution lost. I don't think that the prosecution could have shown that CI did not occur. He has been found not guilty of the specific charges brought against him. However, he has to live with the event and the deaths in which he was involved.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 15:01
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Bob Viking

Beardy is correct.

There was no proof that AH was but it would be a difficult thing to prove anyway. The burden on the prosecution was to prove that AH was guilty of Gross Negligence Manslaughter. Once there was credible evidencethat he may have been suffering from CI then it was for the prosecution to disprove it.

Before people start saying that in future anybody could claim CI and the prosecution could never disprove it, that is rubbish. There would have to be some credible evidence to support such a claim either factual, medical or a combination thereof.

There was sufficient evidence to raise a credible case and not only did the evidence exist but the jury accepted it as credible and possible. The jury could have rejected the evidence if they so wished.

Regarding AH saying he was not made aware of anti-G straining during his training that was misreported. What he actually said was to the effect that when he went through training G training was not dealt with as formally and to the extent that it is now. That was an agreed position with the prosecution experts. The newspapers misreported it as him saying something along the lines of he didn't know anything about anti-G straining.
I am afraid there was a lot of misreporting in the press. As an example when I cross-examined one of the prosecution expert witnesses it was reported in the papers that my colleague had cross-examined that particular witness. On that particular day my colleague was not even in the country, he was in New York. I use that as a non-contentious example.

As to levels of experience, AH was a creamie and then Harrier pilot. The prosecution experts all considered him to be a highly experienced pilot. Those experts were themselves highly experienced ex military pilots


In summary, you say it annoys you that people question the outcome of the trial but you are more than happy to question the experience of many highly experienced people. People who have formed their opinions over many 1000’s of hours of flying fast jet aircraft.
But not a single minute in court listening to the evidence. A lot of those people have applied their experience to newspaper reports (which may have got it wrong), the AAIB report which did not look at all the evidence the jury did (it wouldn't be the first time the AAIB have got it wrong) or a video shown on the news that was but a part of the video evidence. I don't have a problem with people questioning the outcome of the trial I do have a problem with people doing so without knowing all or even a fraction of the true facts. In a professional capacity I am sometimes asked by friends about my views on the outcome of a particular case and my response would always be along the lines of "Well it does seem surprising but I didn't hear the evidence. Pilots v the jury? who is likely to be the better judge 3000hrs flying and maybe up to 10 hours reading what may or may not have been the evidence or 150 hrs seeing and hearing all of the evidence and then hearing argument from both sides.

I really don't want to open the floodgates but like my offer to Cat Techie I will happily sit down with you at some point, if you want, and try and explain what the evidence actually presented in court was.

Last edited by Legalapproach; 3rd Jul 2020 at 15:21.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 15:20
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Bob Viking, Beardy, Legalapproach

Not only is Beardy correct in the detail of what Legalapproach says, but he also makes a very good point when he says that AH
has to live with the event and the deaths in which he was involved
He does indeed, and that situation is not made easier by the fact that his own survival in such an accident was at the extreme end of unlikeliness.

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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 15:40
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Once there was credible evidence that he may have been suffering from CI then it was for the prosecution to disprove it.
This is I think the crux of the matter for many of us experienced pilots. I wasn't at the trial, I haven't seen nor have I read the evidence transcripts. But, I have difficulty reconciling that credible evidence, as reported from the court, with personal experience. It is those personal experiences that the jurors did not posses. Perhaps that is both a strength and weakness of trial by jury and adversarial trials.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 19:02
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Beardy you say
I haven't seen nor have I read the evidence transcripts. But, I have difficulty reconciling that credible evidence, as reported from the court
But the thing about what was reported from the court by national papers is that it was, by and large, misleading, or at least incomplete!

Much of the national press took their information from the prosecution's opening statement - which, by the way, the prosecution team had distributed beforehand to all and sundry in a 53-page document. So reporters could report it as if they'd actually heard it said in court.

Thereafter, for the rest of the eight week trial, the national press was often noticeable by its absence. So they mostly missed the defence's expert evidence that later persuaded the jury. I had occasion to point out this shortcoming to a senior broadsheet reporter later, but he was not interested.

airsound

Last edited by airsound; 3rd Jul 2020 at 19:13. Reason: adding 'national papers'
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 19:28
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As an experienced (20+ years, nearly 4000 hours) fast jet pilot, my instinct is with BV et al. I don't doubt the weight of evidence considered, and I have not read or seen it either, but watching the video time and again (at the time, I was a Hunter display pilot) , I struggle to understand anything other than he screwed up. Perhaps we could meet for that beer ( or 2 ).
His defence did their job, the prosecution lost the case.
All mho.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 19:43
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When I say reported from the court I wasn't referring exclusively to the main stream press. Many on this forum have helpfully summarised the defence submissions concerning CI. Like many on this forum who have read these summaries I still find it difficult to reconcile personal experience with the descriptions.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 20:05
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Legal Approach

Itíd be fascinating to take you up on the offer but itíd be a very long way to come for a free beer. I suspect it would be somewhat of a net loss on my behalf.

BV
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 20:10
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Originally Posted by Bob Viking
Itíd be fascinating to take you up on the offer but itíd be a very long way to come for a free beer. I suspect it would be somewhat of a net loss on my behalf.

BV
It would definitely be a loss as he wasnít proposing to buy the beer. In fact, the opposite!
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 20:13
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ES

I clearly need to learn to read better. To be fair, Iíve had more than a couple tonight so it should come as no surprise that my comprehension is lacking somewhat.

BV
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 20:31
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For my part I am happy to travel pretty much any distance for free beer
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 21:34
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Theatre Daahling.

Originally Posted by just another jocky
As an experienced (20+ years, nearly 4000 hours) fast jet pilot, my instinct is with BV et al. I don't doubt the weight of evidence considered, and I have not read or seen it either, but watching the video time and again (at the time, I was a Hunter display pilot) , I struggle to understand anything other than he screwed up. Perhaps we could meet for that beer ( or 2 ).
His defence did their job, the prosecution lost the case.
All mho.
I speak in general terms, but with a tad of personal experience included.

A Crown Court Trial is a certain amount of Theatre. Facts are facts, but speculation and interpretation play a part.

I saw the footage of Shoreham like all of us, but I, or anybody else, will never know what happened in that cockpit. Clearly only one person does. Or does he?.

There are clearly a huge amount of FJ Pilots on here who have the experience and knowledge to watch the footage and come up with a rational explanation or view. At the same time, who can truly say that incapacitation did not play a part? A particular set of circumstances in a very short space of time could end in the inevitable, but unless the one person who knows (whatever the circumstances) tells all, the rest of us will never know.

My thoughts are that this subject will forever polarise.....................

TN (Sitting On a Fence)



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