Shoreham Air Crash Report Makes Safety Recommendations Concerning Maintenance Of Ex-Military Jets

Expert Aviation Lawyers call for more stringent rules


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Specialist aviation lawyers representing people injured in the Shoreham air show tragedy earlier this year say the latest interim report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) clearly shows that the rules for the maintenance of high performance ex-military jets need to be more stringent. 

In this latest report air crash investigators make several safety recommendations following the revelations that the ejector seat had time expired explosive cartridges, a technical manual for the aircraft did not contain all amendments and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) could not determine if the aircraft met the requirements of its Permit to Fly from December 2014.

This ex-military Hawker Hunter jet aircraft crashed into the westbound carriageway of the A27 on 22 August this year while taking part in an air display near Shoreham airport. Eleven people on the ground were killed, a number of others were seriously injured and the pilot also suffered serious injuries.

Specialist aviation lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are representing and advising people left injured following the Shoreham air crash. They are helping them to access the therapies and rehabilitation they need to overcome the ordeal.

The AAIB report makes seven safety recommendations relating to the maintenance and airworthiness of ex-military aircraft including:

  • Requiring operators of ex-military aircraft fitted with ejection seats to ensure that information is available as to how make the devices safe after a crash
  • The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reviews guidance in respect of ejection seat maintenance
  • The CAA should establish a process for effective sharing of ex-military jet maintenance knowledge and a minimum standard for amending the technical publications for each type of jet operated on the UK Civil register
  • The process of issuing permits to fly should also be reviewed.

The Special Bulletin also outlined that the pilot had over 14,200 hours of flying experience although only 40 hours were on this type of aircraft. While last week police confirmed that he had been interviewed as part of their enquiries.

Jim Morris, a specialist aviation lawyer at Irwin Mitchell and former RAF pilot, said:

Expert Opinion
“While we still do not yet know the cause of this air disaster the latest special bulletin raises some important issues in the maintenance and operation of ex-military aircraft.

“High performance ex-military aircraft such as the Hunter Hawker jet are built for military operations and contain components, such as the ejector seat system, that can be lethal if not properly maintained. The fact that this aircraft ejector seat system was found to be fitted with time expired explosive cartridges, meaning that it did not meet the definition of “fully serviceable”, is very concerning.

“Furthermore, this report identifies the difficulties of maintaining the skills, knowledge and documentation in relation to the maintenance of aging ex-military jets that have been sold to civilian operators. In relation to the maintenance of the engine, it goes on to highlight that the CAA reported that it could not determine if the accident aircraft met the requirements of its Permit to Fly. This is a huge concern so it is crucial that the rules and oversight by the CAA are more stringent and clear on all of the maintenance requirements to ensure that ex-military aircraft are fit for purpose and, in all respects, meet the definition of “fully serviceable”.

“Hopefully all of these and any future AAIB safety recommendations will be taken on-board by the CAA in its Review of UK Civil Air Displays and the operation of ex-military jets at air shows.”
Jim Morris, Partner

Irwin Mitchell represents and is advising the families of people who were tragically killed as well as people who were injured in the Shoreham air crash. If you would like to speak in confidence to an expert regarding this accident, or any other aviation incident you were involved in, see our Shoreham Air Accident page for more information or alternatively our Air Accident Claims page.