Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hawker Hunter T.Mk 7, Canfield Hunter Ltd., G-BXFI: Fatal accident occurred August 22, 2015 near Shoreham Airport

Spectators injured during the Shoreham airshow disaster could be in line for million-pound compensation pay out after aircraft owners admitted liability for one survivor 

Spectators injured when a former RAF jet crashed during the Shoreham air show are set for massive compensation payments after the aircraft owners admit liability in the first legal case.

The 1950s Hawker Hunter crashed during an aerobatics display on August 22, 2015 killing 11 people.

The aircraft was was being flown by former RAF pilot Andy Hill when it crashed in a fireball on the A27 in Sussex, smashing into several cars.

The aircraft's owners Canfield Hunter Ltd have already settled one claim for compensation.

Specialist aviation lawyers Irwin Mitchell are representing some of the 15 people who were injured.

Jim Morris, specialist aviation expert and former RAF pilot is a partner at Irwin Mitchell. He said the total compensation figure is likely to run into millions of pounds.

The pilot survived the high speed crash and spent several weeks in an induced coma. Police interviewed Mr Hill before Christmas about his recollection of the crash.

Investigators have also examined two cockpit cameras which recorded events leading up to the tragedy.

Mr Morris told the Sunday People: 'Individually, cases will vary. Some may be just tens of thousands, some may be a six-figure sum. There could be cases that are seven figures.

'Under the Civil Aviation Act, the owner of the aircraft is liable for any loss or damage or injury to ground victims.

'We are in the process of potentially instructing more people – it’s always difficult following these kind of ­disasters to ascertain how many we will, in due course, represent.'

According to an interim report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch, the cockpit videos do not show any abnormal indications in the moments leading up to the disaster.

One of the cameras showed the aircraft was travelling at a 100knots while inverted at the top of the loop.

According to the interim report: 'Cockpit imagery is being analysed to help understand the final manoeuvre in more detail and to provide system status information.'

The doomed jet was built in 1955 and was in military service until the 1990s.

The AAIB said: 'The ground marks and photographic evidence show that the aircraft struck the road in a nose-high attitude on a magnetic heading of approximately 230°. The first ground contact was made by the lower portion of the jetpipe fairing, approximately 50 m east of the road junction.

'During the impact sequence fuel and fuel vapor from the fuel tanks was released and then ignited. The aircraft broke into four main pieces which came to rest close together approximately 243 m from the initial ground contact, in a shallow overgrown depression to the south of the A27.

'During the initial part of the impact sequence the jettisonable aircraft canopy was released, landing in a tree close to the main aircraft wreckage.

'During the latter part of the impact sequence, both the pilot and his seat were thrown clear from the cockpit. The pilot sustained serious injuries. The investigation continues to determine if the pilot attempted to initiate ejection or if the canopy and pilot’s seat were liberated as a result of impact damage to the cockpit.

'Most of the aircraft wreckage has been recovered and transported to the AAIB facilities at Farnborough where it will be subject to further detailed examination. Work continues to recover smaller wreckage from the accident site.'

Read more:

The victims:
(Top row, left to right) Matt Jones, Matthew Grimstone, Jacob Schilt, Maurice Abrahams, Richard Smith. (Bottom row, left to right) Mark Reeves, Tony Brightwell, Mark Trussler, Daniele Polito, Dylan Archer, Graham Mallinson

  • Matt Jones, a 24-year-old personal trainer
  • Matthew Grimstone, 23, a Worthing United footballer who worked as a groundsman at Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Jacob Schilt, also 23 and also a Worthing United player, was travelling to a match with Mr Grimstone
  • Maurice Abrahams, 76, from Brighton, was a chauffeur on his way to pick up a bride on her wedding day
  • Friends Richard Smith, 26, and Dylan Archer, 42, who were going for a bike ride on the South Downs
  • Mark Reeves, 53, had ridden his motorcycle to the perimeter of Shoreham Airport to take photos of the planes
  • Tony Brightwell, 53, from Hove was an aircraft enthusiast and had learnt to fly at Shoreham airfield
  • Mark Trussler, 54, is thought to have been riding his motorcycle on the A27
  • Daniele Polito was travelling in the same car as Mr Jones
  • Graham Mallinson, 72, from Newick, was a keen photographer and retired engineer

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