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-   -   Hawker Hunter Crash at Shoreham Airshow (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/566533-hawker-hunter-crash-shoreham-airshow.html)

Aerostar6 23rd Aug 2015 16:55

Any of you guys with display experience in comparable aircraft have any views on the selected figure which went wrong?
The initial approach was fast and low down the A axis from north to south. Logic would dictate that the only manoeuvre suitable on that axis would be a straight loop. The quarter clover that appears to have been carried out was commenced well before the field boundary and exited at 90 degrees to the A axis going roughly NW, well to the north of the display box which strikes me as an extremely odd selection, as the exit would have been towards the higher terrain at crowd right, and be barely visible to the main crowd line.
If the figure had been commenced at crowd centre, with a left roll, the aircraft would have bust the 230m line heading towards the crowd, which makes even less sense.
The manoeuvre does appear from the very clear video evidence to have been premeditated, but because of the lack of logic, maybe a subtle control problem cannot be ruled out yet?
I speak as a civvie display pilot (piston, not jet) of some years standing and a mate of the pilot.

Tourist 23rd Aug 2015 17:03

If being an innocent bystander makes a difference, then surely that applies to other events?

I loath football, yet it continues.

Many have died in stadiums, but many more have been killed/injured by hooligans ouside of stadiums/in bars/train stations etc and the general level of negative impact on the outside world by vile football fans is enormous.

Would you ban it because of this?

The only way to make aviation completely safe is to stop it.
This accident is no surprise. Nobody tried to make aviation completely safe.
An accident was always going to happen eventually, that is the nature of probability.
One accident is not too many, that is merely another vacuous statement that comes along with "you can't put a price on life"

Yes you can, and the world does every day.

Those who recommend making the displays more tame miss the point. Old duffers may watch vintage planes nimble around with a terry eye, but the young want excitement.
Tame displays is just a slow death for air displays.
People want excitement, and frankly though nobody seems to admit it, they want danger.

This western obsession with risk aversion is the slow death of our civilisation in my opinion.

Satellite_Driver 23rd Aug 2015 17:07


The significance is the perception by the public, or more likely by the press or politicians. Like it or not, and whatever the objective considerations of risk tell us, this incident will attract added attention because complete bystanders were involved. I think it would have attracted a lot of attention even if all the casualties were spectators who might be deemed to have placed themselves at risk (although when I'm behind the crowd line at a display, I assume that the risk is well-managed and very small). But here, there are factors that will amplify public concern, or at least what the media calls public concern.

Satellite_Driver 23rd Aug 2015 17:21

I certainly don't think flying displays should be banned. I enjoyed them when I went to Farnborough in the late 70s and early 80s, and I enjoyed them today. It would be very sad indeed only to see historic aircraft as museum exhibits.

But, flying displays have risk: risk for the pilots, risk for the spectators, and, as yesterday's events have shown, risk for bystanders. That risk, especially for spectators and bystanders, is small but not negligible. Remember, risk is defined as the product of likelihood and severity of the consequence, and the consequences of something going wrong at an airshow can be very bad indeed.

You deal with risk in various ways (sometimes called the PRAT model):

Prevent - the only way to prevent risk from air displays is to stop doing them.

Reduce - you reduce the risk by making incidents less likely (careful preparation) and my mitigating the consequences (safe display boxes).

Accept - by and large the risk to display pilots, having been reduced as much as it can be in the circumstances, is accepted.

Transfer - typically by insurance, but whilst this is appropriate for purely financial risks no amount of liability insurance is going to make airshow accidents publicly acceptable.

In short, the only real way, short of stopping air displays (and again, I would hope that never happens) is to reduce the risk. We've done a lot to reduce the risk and I think the statistics since Farnborough in 1952 speak for themselves. But, in light of this accident and the Gnat crash three weeks ago, I can well imagine that there will be pressure on the relevant authorities to look again at how we regulate displays of those aircraft that pose a higher risk in the event of accident, and that will include fast jets.

Chris Scott 23rd Aug 2015 17:23

Perspective from the air
The smallness of Shoreham airfield inevitably results in most of a fast-jet display being well outside the airfield boundaries, but there may be another problem from the pilot's viewpoint.

Without suggesting that it has any relevance to this particular accident, one of the significant features of Shoreham is the shortness of its only paved runway (about 3400 ft). Nothing unusual about that for the average GA pilot, but the resulting perspective from the air is very different from that at many airshow venues, not to mention the airfields where fast jets have to be based. If the runway is also narrower than the standard width at such airfields, as I think may be the case at Shoreham, a pilot could easily overestimate his/her height above the airfield when relying on visual cues. **

Some displays, of course, take place over grass airfields, farms, beaches, sea, etcetera (or even below cliffs). But in those cases the FJ pilot knows full-well that he is manoeuvring in a strange environment.

** I'm not suggesting that display pilots are not well aware of the above!

Cows getting bigger 23rd Aug 2015 17:32

There are two main threads to this accident:

a. An aircraft crashed. Why did it crash?
b. An aircraft crash killed uninvolved individuals on the ground. How adequate are/were the safety procedures and regulations pertaining to air displays?

Sorry for stating the bleeding obvious but I thought it worthwhile.

strake 23rd Aug 2015 17:39

Cows - your second point is completely relevant. Totally innocent, uninvolved people have been killed because of a sport/hobby which others take part in knowing the risk. As I have stated previously, this is not just a tragedy, it's an outrage for the victims and families involved.

strake 23rd Aug 2015 18:09

are killed every day in every fatal accident or mishap, and as collateral in every military action our society undertakes.
Go tell that to the families. There is no war in Sussex. Yes, people can be killed in road accidents and all these drivers would know that. However, this is at least 11 uninvolved people killed in an accident caused by a failure of procedures or mechanical systems by people involved in an airshow. It is unacceptable and a crime.

clareprop 23rd Aug 2015 18:15

With you all the way on this one Strake - it is criminal. People just driving along a road should not die because of the enjoyment or risk-taking of others. The really difficult part for me is knowing they could quite safely do a display a few hundred yards away on the beach...

Davef68 23rd Aug 2015 18:18

Originally Posted by strake (Post 9092358)
........... It is unacceptable and a crime.

A crime? Seriously? Please define the breach of criminal legislation you feel has been committed?

glad rag 23rd Aug 2015 18:19

Tourist in usual, incisive, Tourist posts; quell surprise that it's 2015; eh?

Treble one 23rd Aug 2015 18:20

I think one of the easiest way to negate some risk at airshows, is to put a complete ban on spectators outside the showground/airfield (within a certain distance of the airfield/show boundaries).

'Naughty Fields' are often directly under display lines, and ironically, spectators are at far more risk outside the controlled spectator areas inside the display area, due to the 170/230M lines enforced in there. As are the display pilots should they have any trouble with their mounts.

There will be some tightening up of regulations as a consequence of this tragedy. It will be interesting to see what happened to venues like Duxford/Waddington which have major roads at the end of their runways, similar to Shoreham. It would be difficult to shut such roads down for the duration of their shows?


clareprop 23rd Aug 2015 18:24

Davef68 - I'm pretty sure Strake is referring to criminal negligence. You can't hold an airshow, kill people and expect to just say 'Terribly sorry old chap...'

Albert Driver 23rd Aug 2015 18:37

Yup, A27 goes through the display area and also Lancing College is pretty close by as well. At either end you have the towns of Shoreham and Lancing with loads of houses. It's all a bit tight in my humble opinion when 1/2 mile away is the open sea.
Well summed up.

In my view this airshow should be given the choice of moving to the sea-front or accepting restriction to more suitable, manoeuvrable aircraft if it chooses to stay where it is.

Always a Sapper 23rd Aug 2015 18:40

Originally Posted by Davef68

Originally Posted by strake

........... It is unacceptable and a crime.

A crime? Seriously? Please define the breach of criminal legislation you feel has been committed?

I would have thought the 'Health & Safety at Work act 1974' for starters, unless of course all involved can prove they took all reasonable precautions to prevent.... etc etc.

Either way, people have been killed and injured. It goes without saying that thoughts are with both the family's and friends of all involved and hoping for a speedy recovery for the injured.

effortless 23rd Aug 2015 18:41

Am I right in thinking that the Hunter was a relatively benign aircraft? When I think of the attrition rates of say the lightning and Meatbox.

ExRAFRadar 23rd Aug 2015 18:51

A crime? Seriously? Please define the breach of criminal legislation you feel has been committed?
So 11 people die, and possibly more by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Oh wait, they were in the right place at the right time.

The Hunter was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What law you ask, I would suggest the families will be advised of that quite soon.

Are Air show organisers and the pilots involved not liable to UK Criminal Negligence laws ?

And I do realise this opens a whole can of worms.

Does anyone sign off display profiles?

Is there a concept of peer-review?

Genuinely interested not trying to be controversial

Simplythebeast 23rd Aug 2015 18:55

All good points but surely we should let the experts do their thing and if blame is to be apportioned Im sure they will do so.
I would amagine the legal Carrion Crows will be lining up already.

dervish 23rd Aug 2015 18:55

Perhaps a legal precedent?


Lots of calls for heads to roll but it was thrown out.

Too early to speculate on Shoreham, until it is known what happened.

RAFEngO74to09 23rd Aug 2015 18:56

New video footage of the flight path prior taken from near the impact point on the A27:

Shoreham air crash: Man films Hunter hitting A27 road - BBC News

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