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Shoreham Airshow Crash Trial

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Shoreham Airshow Crash Trial

Old 3rd Jul 2020, 22:54
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BV :-
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.
Why? If no-one had 'leapt to his defence', if AH's defence had failed in its task and he had been found guilty, what difference would that make to subsequent events? Whether pilots are negligent or not, whether CI exists or not, Shoreham was an accident that had already found a place to happen. Much the same could be said of many other venues, possibly all. In which case what would bring an end to the thing so loved is this accident, whatever its cause. This was simply the time and place where all the holes lined up and with such tragic consequences, the least of which would be an end to high performance display flying.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 00:06
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Legal approach, you are correct. I am well aware that the cornerstone of our legal system is that one is only guilty by trial, if the jury believes that it is beyond reasonable doubt. The person under trial did not take off from North Weald with any intention of hurting anybody. He was going to fly a display in an aircraft that he had PDA to display. There was no intent to commit a crime.

The CPS believed the case was strong enough to raise charges for a trial. Nobody has ever been tried for causing death by gross negligence by an aircraft crashing into people in the United Kingdom before. No surprising that the last time a death on the ground by a flying display crash was by John Derry aircraft exceeding its design limits (although didn’t the Vulcan crash at Syerston kill servicemen on the ground a year later?) The defence team did what they were paid to do. Defend their client. The prosecution should have seen any pitfalls in their case and covered all angles. They did not.

My first aero experience was in a Chipmunk at the age of 14. I can remember when G effects come into play from my first flight in a loop. I have done so since in a Tucano with the same effects and in an Extra 300 (that has been the most fun I have ever had sitting in an aircraft). I have had the privilege of FJ trips on my time on Jags included G pull ups to the maximum of 4.5G that as a Cat B passenger as the P1 was allowed to put me under (and dropping a 1000 pound dumb bomb in a dive attack and recovery, the loading is not short, it is several seconds and I could tell you as I was filming the attack at the time). Maximum effect of course was always at the bottom with Earths attraction, hardly anything at the top.

A lack of FDR information for an old war bird was always going to hinder the investigation for accurate information. It has been an issue with all military FJs for many years until recently. However, the radar information is accurate enough to tie to the video for the AAIB to track the flight path. There are enough ex and current Hunter pilots on here that have said the facts of the SOP for Hunter aeros. Errors were made from the start, before any extra forces to the body were applied.

The BCAR system he was operating under was so full of the swiss cheese holes compared to the military system that Bob and I worked under. That is also true as far as engineering was concerned as it is massively weaker than the commercial aviation sector I work in. Flying an aircraft with life limiting parts out of date does invalidate the insurance on the aircraft I maintain, and I have grounded aircraft when dates have been missed by others. That Hunter had seat carts that were outside of the OEM use by shelf and fitted life dates. The OEM defines safe life in my book, not an engineer that has never been in the process of design and certification to make that decision or define such. The Thunder City Lightning crash reinforces my view on such matters. That is of course not in the scope of the pilot to decide, bar he should be aware of the state of his aircraft from the tech log of his aeroplane and he carries the responsibility of anything after he has signed the acceptance document. I could be totally wrong of course if BCAR section A states otherwise, however my understanding is that any PtF ex military aircraft should use similar recording documentation to when it was in service. A Form 700 with the F705 / F725 sector recording forms as a base line. It should have (if not computer controlled as commercial operators have to as a minimum) a forecast of maintenance dates and life limiting parts. A failure of the CAA regulations or the CAMO for the airframe? The pilot signing for an aeroplane should perhaps asked the question, where was the information? End of the day, was that aircraft within the policy of its insurance to fly? I doubt the insurers will argue that.

I am aware of how commercial pilots operate their aircraft. They must be dynamic and also passive as too much dynamics is bad for the self-loading freight. “Autopilot Inoperative” is almost at no go for the airlines I have worked for. It is almost a last resort to release the aircraft with AP/YD inop. Most Captains will not take such an aircraft will that system deferred from use. Soon as V2 is called, positive rate of climb and gear is retracted, the AP is selected. It will not be deactivated until landing depending on the CAT state of the aircraft and Decision Height. The joke that 1000 airliner hours is worth 1 hour of Fast Jet time, certainly for the old school does have a grain of truth. Currency for an RAF pilot PDA is not measured in months, it is measure in having currency in days.

End of the day, 11 people died on a Saturday afternoon due to a person that was controlling a vehicle hitting them. The inquest with the evidence will decide if it was accidental, open, misadventure or unlawful. It will be legal with no jury so up to the presiding coroner to judge the evidence. I assume depending on the result will be if civil actions may be taken. I heard that the aircraft owners’ insurers had admitted liability ages ago but have no idea if they had settled out of court with the affected. None of my business to enquire further.

I was down at NW last year, chatting to a civil FJ owner about things and Shoreham came up. He was damming about AH and that day, the unprofessionalism of the flying. Entry and gate heights and the lack of recognition to bail out of the sequence as it was going pear shaped. That was from PPL jet flyer. I didn’t disagree. If I killed someone on the road by not driving my car correctly, I doubt cognitive impairment would be believed by any Jury trying me. Just my opinion.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 01:53
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John Derry aircraft exceeding its design limits
I hope you are not inferring that Derry knowingly exceeded limits, from what I understand the issue was design flaw in the wings leading edge D section. The coroner's jury recorded that Derry and Richards had "died accidentally in the normal course of their duty", and that "the deaths of the spectators were accidental", adding that "no blame is attached to Mr. John Derry".
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 07:32
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There was talk in the Industry post the Derry accident about redux bonding, bonding and bolting, variations on the prototypes being involved in the failure. IIRC I'm not qualified to comment ,ust overhearing this later, Perhaps somebody might amplify ?.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 08:05
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ISTR there was no proper 'D' box structure/nose ribs for the DH110 leading edge, built to the same basic design used on vampire/venom.
Obviously it was redesigned for the Sea Vixen.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 09:37
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Trial Verdict suited the 'system'

Indirectly the 'system' was on trial in this case and therefore by only charging the pilot (who was rightly cleared of the charge) it effectively closed the book and did not expose the real gaps that existed. Remember this was an 'authorised' display not an ad hoc event, and therefore as such should have been subject to compliance with the then rules governing the day.
The fact that the DA was deficient, and that the final back stop (the ability to stop the display if required) was not implemented, are in my mind the most significant factors which allowed this accident to happen. Both these situations were present BEFORE the actual failed manoeuvre took place, and in the case of the STOP call the obvious failure in this not happening when the display machine was well below its initial height at the display start was again BEFORE any G induced element was possible. On the day not only did the pilot fail to observe the requirements, and safe practice, but the system in place to act as the overall regulator failed in equal terms to do its job. Whether this is relevant to an inquest I am unsure, but it was relevant to the event on the day and therefore in my mind should be part of the decision process to give a proper picture of what went wrong.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 10:11
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I heard at the time (but am not sure) that Andy Hill had his DA for the more powerfully engine Hunter FGA9, not the T7 which he flew? I recall it reported at the time that he stood in at short notice for the intended display pilot?

FB
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 11:25
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Originally Posted by Finningley Boy
I heard at the time (but am not sure) that Andy Hill had his DA for the more powerfully engine Hunter FGA9, not the T7 which he flew? I recall it reported at the time that he stood in at short notice for the intended display pilot?

FB
DAs are not type specific, let alone sub-type specific. They are category specific, however.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 11:55
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Originally Posted by KarlADrage
DAs are not type specific, let alone sub-type specific. They are category specific, however.
A good example of the disparity in rigour between military and civil display regulation.

Last edited by Easy Street; 4th Jul 2020 at 12:24.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 13:11
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Just as a matter of interest, did anyone ask in court when this CI started?

Was it when he did the preflight checks? After he took off? When he was running in? When he was too low and slow into the accident manoeuvre? When he was too low at his gate height and didn't act? When he didn't attempt an escape maneouvre.....I don't know.

When was it?
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 13:33
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Originally Posted by KarlADrage
DAs are not type specific, let alone sub-type specific. They are category specific, however.
I am afraid that, as a DAE with Category G on my approval, I must correct you. In Category G (single engine jets) DAs are type specific. Therefore, AH would have had a DA for 'Cat G (Hunter)'. They do not differentiate between different Marks of a given type. DAE approvals are by Category only and not by type. Please note that since this accident Cat G has been further subdivided into G1 and G2 for straight wing and swept wing single engine jets although this makes no practical difference to the award of a DA but it does with respect to currency..

The difference in maximum thrust available between Hunters with Avon 200 series engines (F(GA)9, F58 etc) and those with Avon 100 series engines (eg. T7) makes no real difference to how you fly a display. I have practised in a T7 for a F(GA)9 display without any changes to how I flew, other than considerations for the reduced external view to the right due to the cockpit and canopy shape. A manoeuvre flown in a 200 engine Mark at full throttle should be capable of being flown in exactly the same way and from the same airspeed in an aircraft with a 100 series engine. If it cannot then, in my opinion, insufficient safety margin has been allowed.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 13:47
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Apologies for the duff info, Lomcevak. Is Cat G the only one which that applies to? I'd always been led to believe that DAs were not type specific.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 14:11
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No Problems. CAP1724 Chapter 9 gives the details of the Categories and Groups. However, some categories are also annotated by type and this table could be misleading! I will try to find where in this CAP it states that.
Rgds L
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 15:58
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Originally Posted by Treble one
Just as a matter of interest, did anyone ask in court when this CI started?

Was it when he did the preflight checks? After he took off? When he was running in? When he was too low and slow into the accident manoeuvre? When he was too low at his gate height and didn't act? When he didn't attempt an escape maneouvre.....I don't know.

When was it?
I would be surprised if many contributors to this thread are not yearning to get answers to your questions. We can only hope that the Coroner is similarly minded!
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 17:22
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Originally Posted by megan
I hope you are not inferring that Derry knowingly exceeded limits, from what I understand the issue was design flaw in the wings leading edge D section. The coroner's jury recorded that Derry and Richards had "died accidentally in the normal course of their duty", and that "the deaths of the spectators were accidental", adding that "no blame is attached to Mr. John Derry".
Badly worded, Megan. I remember vaguely reading a report on the accident that on a previous Mach One pass, it was noticed that some structural deformation was apparent. It was mentioned by his observer. Of course Derry didn't know his aircraft was going to disintegrate. Nor did the design team. Life was cheaper then. Joe Bloggs was a nobody and claims direct didn't exist.
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Old 5th Jul 2020, 09:13
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Does the fact that the display was started using a "bent loop" manoeuvre indicate that the venue was unsuitable?

lsh
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Old 5th Jul 2020, 10:26
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Errors were made from the start, before any extra forces to the body were applied.
Errors were undoubtedly made - but not from the start. They seemed to have started at a point a few minutes into the display that came to be known as Point X.

Once again, you need to have been present in court to know that sort of thing. Except that, for this particular set of evidence, there was a very good local press report by Michael Drummond of the Shoreham Herald. His report ties in with my own contemporaneous notes. It refers to the evidence of Dr Steve Jarvis, a well respected aviation human performance/safety specialist. Dr Jarvis was a defence expert witness, but his credentials had been confirmed by Wg Cdr Nicholas Green, an RAF Av Med consultant, who was an expert witness for the prosecution

Dr Jarvis listed between eight and twelve inexplicable and unconnected errors made by AH. They all occurred in a period of 22-23 seconds. He said that the chances of so many independent errors occurring like that were very remote.
https://www.shorehamherald.co.uk/new...says-1-8824257

Incidentally, this also goes some way to answering Treble one’s question
Just as a matter of interest, did anyone ask in court when this CI started?
And if you want to deduce when Point X was, I suggest you look at Fig 11 of the AAIB report, and correlate it with Dr Jarvis’ trial evidence.

airsound

Last edited by airsound; 5th Jul 2020 at 13:03. Reason: fcatual correction
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Old 5th Jul 2020, 10:35
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Airsound

I know you know a lot more about the trial than I do so I have another question.

Were any of AH’s previous Hunter sorties examined in so much detail?

Is it possible that all the inexplicable errors on the accident sortie were actually the actions of an inexperienced and ‘maxed out’ pilot? Is it possible he had made similar mistakes before that were never caught?

I’m not here to put AH on trial again but, since you are in a position to answer questions, I thought you might help to assuage some of our concerns.

BV
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Old 5th Jul 2020, 12:33
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Originally Posted by airsound
Dr Jarvis listed between eight and twelve inexplicable and unconnected errors made by AH. They all occurred in a period of 22-23 seconds. He said that the chances of so many independent errors occurring like that were very remote.
This is the particular piece of evidence that I and many other FJ pilots have a very great deal of difficulty in accepting. The sequence of errors is absolutely characteristic of someone who has gone off ‘the plan’, inadvertently or by design, and is devoting an increasing proportion of their mental capacity to getting back on ‘the plan’. All the time this is going on they are at increased risk of making further errors, some directly related and some not. This is not even something you need to be especially experienced to recognise: a first tourist ‘creamie’ QFI is expected to be able to diagnose it. It is just the sort of thing that happens (frequently) to student pilots - fortunately with the large safety margins applied to such flying. It’s also quite common in air combat, in which it can often readily be discerned from the other aircraft. Throttle mishandling (one of AH’s apparently ‘unlinked’ errors) is not unusual when struggling for capacity with attention mostly focussed outside the cockpit. Ask any Tornado back-seater how many times they had to chivvy their pilot to put the wings or manoeuvre flaps in a more suitable position while “dogfighting” - it is just these sort of things that get missed under stress by pilots of all experience levels. For a more accessible example, anyone who has taken music lessons will know how the tiny mental distraction created by one error can sometimes set off a chain of further random errors that ends with your learned routine breaking down entirely - that’s how I experienced it in cockpit, and as professional musicians do, you learn to recognise the mental signs and do something about it. But importantly you never become immune to it.

In the latter regard I struggled hugely with Dr Jarvis’s reference to AH’s level of experience as making such a sequence of errors a “very remote“ possibility. Setting aside the question of how much of his experience was relevant, it seemed to me to fly in the face of 40 years’-worth of progress in HF which has largely succeeded in persuading senior airline captains, 4000hr QWIs and consultant surgeons that they are far from infallible. If such individuals make fewer such sequences of errors it’s mainly because they’ve learned how to stop the initial (inevitable) error from cascading. There’s the rub: that a pilot as supposedly experienced as AH continued the display for so long while off ‘the plan’ is something that might easily have seen him convicted had Dr Jarvis’s “very remote” assessment been more effectively challenged to reduce the weight it lent the CI argument.

I accept that the case is done and AH has been given the benefit of the doubt to which he is entitled. But I am very interested to see how these matters will be handled at the inquest, by HF research and teaching and ultimately by regulatory systems in years to come.


Last edited by Easy Street; 5th Jul 2020 at 13:51.
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Old 5th Jul 2020, 13:08
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Were any of AH’s previous Hunter sorties examined in so much detail?
Yes. Three or four Hunter displays were shown in court, from a combination of internal and external videos. None of the errors was present in any of the displays.

airsound


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