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The Air Accidents Investigation Branch Publishes Report on the Shoreham Air Disaster

03-March-2017 19:02
in Aviation and Travel
by Lawrence Power

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch published its report into the accident that occurred in Shoreham on 22 August 2015. The sole purpose of the investigation and the report is the prevention of accident and not apportioning blame. This is a brief summary of the key findings as set out in the report.

The normal technique for this manoeuvre was for the aircraft to enter it at 350 KIAS (Knots indicated air speed). In fact, the Hawker entered its ascent at 310 KIAS. The aircraft’s speed was varied and there was not full thrust as the aircraft was in the ascending trajectory of the manoeuvre. There is no evidence of any pre-existing mechanical defect that would have prevented the engine from responding to the pilot’s throttle inputs. The left altimeter under read by approximately 100 ft, while the right altimeter had a latent defect, which meant that it was no longer providing a synchronising signal to the left altimeter. The report identified no other technical defects as relevant to the accident.

The pilot needed to take the aircraft to 3,500 ft at the apex to ensure that on completion of the manoeuvre the aircraft was 500 ft above ground. Instead, the aircraft achieved only 2,700 ft height at its apex. Airspeed at the apex was 105 KIAS, which is at the lower end of the range of 100 to 150 KIAS appropriate for this manoeuvre.

In short, the aircraft had lower altitude than required at the apex. The AAIB reported that it was possible that the pilot misread or misinterpreted speed and height indicators during the manoeuvre or recalled these for a different aircraft type, possibly a Provost.

The risk assessment for the air display on 22 August 2015 relied upon compliance with Rule T of the Rules of the Air; that no aircraft should fly closer than 500ft to any person, vehicle, vessel or structure to mitigate the hazard presented by aircraft displaying over areas outside the control of the organisers.

Key is that the report recommends that the Department of Transport carry out an independent review of the rules and regulations governing air displays.

Furthermore, an inquest is set to begin with the pre-inquest review hearing to take place on 20 June 2017 at the Coroner’s Court at Crawley.

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© Chambers of Lawrence Power