Our military injury solicitors helped a Red Arrows flight lieutenant to clear his name at an inquest into the death of a passenger on his aircraft.
Tom*, a Flight Lieutenant in the Red Arrows, was flying a Hawk Mk1 Aircraft in a practice engine failure scenario when it stalled and then crashed. While he managed to eject himself from the aircraft, Tom had to spend nine days in hospital from his injuries.
A ground-crew engineer, Josh*, was also on board the plane in the rear cockpit. Josh didn’t eject from the plane and unfortunately Tom also couldn’t help him eject. He sadly passed away in the crash.
At the inquest into Josh’s death, Tom knew the accident was more complex than simply a pilot error. He got in touch with our specialist military injury solicitor, Andrew Buckham, to represent him at the inquest. Tom wanted help clearing his name and to make sure the MOD would be held accountable so tragic accidents like his would never happen again.
Clearing Tom’s Name
Andrew used his expert knowledge to gather evidence to show that Tom wasn’t at fault for the crash. He researched the case law of similar cases and got military experts to evaluate the technical aspects of flight stalls. Andrew also questioned the MOD, independent experts and the coroner which uncovered many of the MOD’s failures to prevent the crash.
The model of their aircraft didn’t give a warning if it stalled. The MOD failed to warned Tom and Josh about this before they flew the aircraft according to their training. Sadly, the aircraft’s lack of a stall warning denied both men the opportunity to recover from the stall or make sure they could eject before the crash.
The MOD also wasn’t thorough enough when informing pilots about the minimum safe height at which they could perform an engine failure practice. They failed to properly update the safe handling restrictions for performing a practice engine failure.
The MOD knew the practice was high risk. However, because they didn’t have a synthetic training facility or flight simulator, they accepted the risk of performing the scenarios in real life. They were also aware of the significant risk of the aircraft stalling because of previous accidents and near misses.
They failed to conduct a thorough assessment of the risk to rear seated passengers during the practice engine failure scenario. The design of the cockpit’s ejection system meant that the pilot would be unable to operate the rear seat ejection system at the same time as their own.
The MOD should’ve also been aware that Josh lacked the experience to know when he should’ve initiated his own ejection.
Helping Prevent Future Accidents
Andrew’s evidence showed that Tom had flown the practice engine failure in accordance with his training and within all safety restrictions that the MOD had told him about. The evidence also showed that the MOD had exposed Josh to additional risks which they didn’t manage appropriately and that the crash could have been avoided.
Andrew’s hard work and expertise helped prove that Tom was not at fault for the crash. The Coroner also made a further report because of concerns that the MOD hadn’t taken appropriate action to prevent a crash from happening again.
“I’m glad I was able to help Tom through such a stressful time after he’d already been through so much. Getting the MOD to see their accountability for the crash means that Tom can carry on doing what he does best, hopefully with more safety measures in place.” – Andrew Buckham, military injury solicitor.
If you’ve lost a loved one in military service or you need help attending an inquest, our expert military inquest and fatal claims solicitors can help.
*Not actual names used.
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