Pilot errors caused Shoreham air show disaster

Investigation finds vintage jet was flying 'too low and too slowly' to attempt a loop the loop

Shoreham Airshow crash
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Policeman who took selfies at Shoreham air crash resigns

7 October

Two Sussex police officers who were investigated over inappropriate social media posts made near the scene of the Shoreham air crash have quit the force.

The unnamed men, aged 23 and 24, filmed themselves at the police cordon of the plane crash that killed 11 people in West Sussex in August.

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The footage and an "offensive" message were sent via social media to a colleague who reported the men to the force's professional standards department.

The officers were halfway through their probation period and chose to resign after a disciplinary hearing for gross misconduct concluded that they should be dismissed.

"The men, who have less than two years' service, are clearly remorseful and have acknowledged the impact of what they had done," Chief Constable Giles York told the BBC.

"But when it really mattered the officers failed to show understanding and compassion for the victims and their families."

He said that officers could be forgiven for making genuine mistakes, but the behaviour of the two men was "inexplicable" and caused "unnecessary distress" to the families.

"I am confident that they would not go on to become well-conducted officers," York added.

Shoreham air crash: families face agonising wait

26 August

Families of missing relatives feared dead in the Shoreham air crash have been warned that efforts to formally identify the victims will be a "slow and painstaking operation".

Police continue to remove debris and carry out forensic examinations on the A27 alongside Shoreham Airport, where the Hawker Hunter jet crashed on Saturday afternoon.

Officials initially said the death toll could rise as high as 20, but after removing the aircraft from the site said it was "increasingly likely" that it would remain at 11.

West Sussex coroner Penny Schofield has warned that the efforts to formally identify the victims would be a "slow and painstaking operation" and may take "several weeks".

Four victims have been named by their friends and family, including Maurice Abrahams, a 76-year-old chauffeur, who had served in the Grenadier Guards and Parachute Regiment, and was on his way to pick up a bride for her wedding.

Worthing United football players Jacob Schilt and Matthew Grimstone, both 23, are thought to have been travelling in the same car when the plane crashed, while Matt Jones, a 24-year-old personal trainer, was named by his sister on Facebook as one of the dead.

The sister of Daniele Polito, believed to have been in the same car as Jones, appealed for any information about her brother's whereabouts earlier this week and stressed that "nothing has been confirmed that Daniele is gone", reports the BBC.

The fiancée of another man, Mark Trussler, has also expressed fears that he was riding his motorbike on the A27 when the plane crashed.

Shoreham Airshow: up to 20 dead as MPs call for safety review

24 August

Police say as many as 20 people may have died on Saturday when a 60-year-old jet crashed onto a busy A-road during an air show. MPs and bereaved relatives are now calling for tighter safety controls on aerial displays.

At least 11 drivers, passengers, cyclists or onlookers on the A27 near Shoreham have been confirmed dead. When emergency workers move the wreckage later today, however, they expect to find more bodies. The pilot survived and was still in a critical condition on Sunday night.

Assistant chief constable Steve Barry, from Sussex Police, said: "It's too early to tell but I'd be surprised if it doesn't go above 11. If it would be below 20 then that would be probably the best estimate that I could give you at this stage."

He added that working out who may have been on the ground as the plane exploded in a massive fireball was "very complicated". The remains of the jet could not be moved yesterday because aircraft fuel was still present. A crane is arriving today.

The jet's descent onto the dual carriageway was filmed and photographed by many onlookers at the air show and the Daily Telegraph says experts are examining the footage to try to determine the cause of the accident.

The plane, a 1955 Hawker Hunter, had just looped the loop when it appeared to stall and crash. Investigators are waiting to speak to the pilot, Andy Hill, says the Telegraph.

With 12,000 flying hours, many of them in Hawker Hunters, the former BA pilot is unlikely to have made a mistake, an expert told the Telegraph. He could have suffered a blackout – though he managed to bring the plane's nose up after the loop.

It is not known if the ejector seat was deployed but it may be that Hill survived because the cockpit sheered off and was thrown clear of the fireball caused by the jet's fuel tanks exploding.

The victims on the ground are believed to include gym instructor Matt Jones, 24, and two amateur football team-mates Jacob Schilt and Matthew Grimstone, both 23. A limousine driver on his way to pick up a bride is also said to be missing.

Grimstone's mother, Sue, spoke to the Telegraph. She questioned the wisdom of holding an air show over a built-up area, saying: "Air shows should be over the sea. It should never have been over that road. It's such a waste."

Other air shows take place at airfields bordered by so-called 'safe zones', the newspaper says, but Shoreham's is more built-up. In 2007 a Hurricane crashed there, killing the pilot.

The Daily Mirror says two Labour MPs have already called for a review of air show safety. Grahame Morris MP said: "If aircraft were limited to displaying over water it would mitigate the risk of casualties on the ground."

Graham Stringer MP said: "I think when an event like this kills 11 people – and it's not the first time there have been fatalities at an airshow – there should be a serious look at the regulations with a view to tightening them up."

The Daily Mail warns that a review of safety "means crowds could now be forced to watch displays from hundreds of metres away". New minimum heights for stunts could also be introduced.

The BBC says the Civil Aviation Authority has announced it is "committed to holding a review" into the safety guidelines for air shows.

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