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-   -   Martin Baker to be prosecuted over death of Flt Lt. Sean Cunningham (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/584971-martin-baker-prosecuted-over-death-flt-lt-sean-cunningham.html)

wub 26th Sep 2016 14:43

Martin Baker to be prosecuted over death of Flt Lt. Sean Cunningham
 
Prosecution over Red Arrows' pilot death - BBC News

dartmoorman 26th Sep 2016 14:54

"For over 67 years, Martin-Baker has been the world leader in the design and manufacture of ejection seats. Our latest designs offer unprecedented life-saving capabilities while providing systems and interfaces to fully integrate the pilot with cockpit and aircraft systems. Over 70,000 ejection seats have been delivered to 93 Air Forces around the world and have saved over 7,495 aircrew lives."

bluetail 26th Sep 2016 15:02

My fear with this prosecution is some young "liney" will get pilloried in the courtroom for following his AP and get the blame.

dctyke 26th Sep 2016 15:25


Originally Posted by bluetail (Post 9521070)
My fear with this prosecution is some young "liney" will get pilloried in the courtroom for following his AP and get the blame.

If so I hope they get a good lawyer! This was ultimately down to money saving 'initiatives' eagerly accepted by those on high.

Shack37 26th Sep 2016 15:26


My fear with this prosecution is some young "liney" will get pilloried in the courtroom for following his AP and get the blame.

I would really hope that doesn´t happen but with the enthusiasm shown these days for chasing veterans who defended their country it is a possibility. Knowing that his "leaders" will hang him/her out to dry some "crowdfunding" to provide a very good defence brief would be in order.

nicolai 26th Sep 2016 15:28

The HSE are prosecuting the company, aren't they? So some poor sod on the line won't be the one they're aiming at, they're aiming at the management acting for the company.

There's some risk of staff following procedures being caught in the crossfire, but they're not the target here.

PDR1 26th Sep 2016 15:48


Originally Posted by bluetail (Post 9521070)
My fear with this prosecution is some young "liney" will get pilloried in the courtroom for following his AP and get the blame.

Not very likely, if you actually read the news item (my emphases):


The alleged breach is Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."
Which would tend to indicate that they are looking for a senior management scalp - I can't see how this section could be used against a liney who would (in any case) be protected by the MAOS Obligation to stick to approved procedures and information (assuming he/she did).

PDR

langleybaston 26th Sep 2016 16:13

Am I alone in being a little uneasy about this prosecution? Very difficult to put into words.

Here we have a magnificent world leading British company of undoubted excellence to go through the wringer. As I read the BBC, this is not manslaughter or criminal negligence. We are not talking about a dodgy operation running fun-fair rides, or operating unsafe ferries.

I suppose the most favourable outcome now would be for the fine detail of the problem/ cause to be understood and acted on [although we would hope that was done days after the tragedy], and that any fine was transferred without delay to the victim's family. Any senior employee seen to be negligent should be dealt with appropriately.

Please don't shoot the messenger, I have never sat in a bang seat, but I do grow weary of this liitigious society where every accident has a blame to be attached.

ciderman 26th Sep 2016 16:15

Let us not forget the number of pilots that have been saved by MB seats. I hope this does not turn into a witch hunt by HSE who have no useful working experience with MB.

Timelord 26th Sep 2016 16:27

Langley B - I know exactly what you mean - I am a Martin Baker "customer" and from what I know of the MB culture I find it hard to believe that they knowingly exposed anyone to risk. Two failures contributed to Sean's death as I recall the SI. One - the undesired seat firing and , two, the failure of the parachute to deploy and we don't know which is the alleged failing. I suspect that it may be to do with the design of the seat pan assembly which allowed the pin to be inserted without making the seat safe. We will have to wait for the details I suppose.

I still love 'em all!

Wander00 26th Sep 2016 16:33

Presumably if MB can show they used their best endeavours consistent with then current engineering practices they will have a good defence. The accident was very sad, especially for DC's family and friends, but it does seem HSE pursue a witch hunt at every opportunity. Anyone else seen the cartoon in the current Private Eye - bunch of guy storming a castle wall under a torrent of rock, boiling oil, etc. H&S guy at the bottom yelling - "Hey you, put your helmet on!" at a guy half way up the wall.

Heathrow Harry 26th Sep 2016 16:35

We all know and respect MB for what they've done but that doesn't mean you are above or beyond the law. Every case should be taken on its own merits and if they have screwed up (which is sadly possible in any organisation) then they have to face the consequences.

I'm pretty sure the HSE would have thought long & hard before chasing an iconic company becasue if there is no smoke or evidence they will be crucified

dartmoorman 26th Sep 2016 16:39

"The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has informed an ejection seat manufacturer that it will be prosecuted following the death of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham on 8th November 2011.
HSE’s Inspector David Butter said:
“HSE has today informed Martin Baker Aircraft Ltd that it will be prosecuted for an alleged breach of health and safety law. The charges relate to the death of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham in November 2011 at RAF Scampton.
“We have conducted a thorough investigation and consider there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”
HSE was handed primacy of the investigation following a MOD Service Inquiry, investigations by the civilian and military police, and technical investigations involving the Military Aviation Authority and the Military Air Accident Investigation Branch.
Flt Lt Cunningham was a Red Arrows pilot. He died after his ejector seat initiated during the pre-flight checks of his Hawk XX177 jet while on the ground and stationary at the Lincolnshire airbase.
Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, Lower Road, Higher Denham, bear Uxbridge will appear at Lincoln Magistrates Court, date to be confirmed, to face a Section 3 Charge under the Health and Safety of Work Act." ..... from the HSE website .

Distant Voice 26th Sep 2016 16:41

If I remember corectly, from the inquest, a safety case for the Mk10 seat did not exist making it not airworthy; MoD responsiblity. I understand that the same seat is fitted to the Tornado.

DV

PDR1 26th Sep 2016 16:42


Originally Posted by langleybaston (Post 9521140)
I suppose the most favourable outcome now would be for the fine detail of the problem/ cause to be understood and acted on [although we would hope that was done days after the tragedy], and that any fine was transferred without delay to the victim's family.

In this context a fine is just that - a fine taken into government coffers. It's not damages and so won't go to any relatives of the deceased. A criminal conviction may (or may not) open the door to a civil suite for damages by the deceased's family, but under English law they don't tend to be that lucrative so it's quite rare.

From the way this has emerged it would seem that the HSE have found something specific which MB allegedly did or omitted to do that was directly related to the hazard. If there was a technical thing which was known to be needed but not done for commercial reasons that would make prosecution of the directors (who have the duties of care in this respect) would seem the appropriate thing to do to remind them of their actual obligations.

PDR

PDR1 26th Sep 2016 16:48


Originally Posted by Wander00 (Post 9521158)
but it does seem HSE pursue a witch hunt at every opportunity.

Can I just say that in *my* experience (for what it's worth) the HSE don't pursue anyone unless there is a clear issue and a definite public interest in doing so? I would suggest that (if anything) they don't act often enough.

YMMV,

PDR

overstress 26th Sep 2016 16:54


I understand that the same seat is fitted to the Tornado.
The mechanism that failed in the Red Arrows accident is different to the seat in the Tornado, where the scissor shackle is gas operated. If my memory serves me correctly.

tucumseh 26th Sep 2016 16:58

Distant Voice is correct. There was no Safety Case. It follows that the Release to Service was invalid.

Something else is going on here. In 2013, before the inquest, the CPS announced that, after all the investigations noted by the HSE, there was insufficient evidence to bring any prosecution. So, what new evidence has been uncovered?

Distant Voice 26th Sep 2016 17:07


The mechanism that failed in the Red Arrows accident is different to the seat in the Tornado, where the scissor shackle is gas operated. If my memory serves me correctly.
I am not sure when that modification was introduced. Was it pre 2013?

DV

Chugalug2 26th Sep 2016 17:14

DV, I think that the modification to the Tornado Mk10 seat, as described by overstress, was not carried out on the Hawk seats. I agree with you that the MOD should be in the dock. Scandalous that there was no Safety Case for the seat.


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