Thursday, September 10, 2015

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

Shoreham air disaster: Families furious at police failure to interview pilot Andy Hill 

Families of the 11 victims of the Shoreham air crash in August are furious that police have yet to formally interview the pilot of the stricken plane, Andy Hill, weeks after he left hospital. Sussex Police say they are hoping to interview Hill as soon as possible.

It is thought Hill, 51, who was placed in an induced coma following the crash, has recovered from any physical injuries he may have suffered, but friends said it was possible he was not yet ready psychologically. Photographs of Mr Hill appear to show a gaunt and haunted figure. His whereabouts have not been published.

Hill was attempting to perform a loop-the-loop in his Hawker Hunter jet at the air show on 22 August but slammed into traffic on the nearby busy A27, bursting into a dramatic fireball captured on video and killing 11 people. It is unclear if Hill used his ejector seat to escape the crash.

An interim investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found there were "no abnormal indications" of mechanical fault in the build-up to the crash. However, it appeared Hill started his manouevre at 200 feet rather than the 500 feet minimum for which he was licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Among the victims was Mark Tussler, 54, who was riding a motorbike and wanted to see a Vulcan bomber which was also part of the display. His fiance Giovanna Chirico told the BBC: "It's just that frustration at how long it's taking to get information or statement from the pilot. It doesn't make it easier for us families who just want the answers as to why our loved ones are not here any more."

However Det Ch Insp Paul Rymarz said the families had been informed why Hill had not yet been interviewed. "The interview of the pilot forms an integral part of the police investigation, but at this time his fitness for interview has not been confirmed. Additionally, we are still in an evidence-gathering stage, with appropriate expert assistance, as we need to fully understand every element of what is a very complex subject in order to gain maximum benefit from that interview."

The pilot of the vintage jet that crashed at the Shoreham airshow, killing 11 people, is to be questioned by police and investigators.

Andy Hill, 51, a former RAF instructor and British Airways captain, was flying a 1950s Hawker Hunter when it failed to pull out of a loop-the-loop maneuver and crashed on to the A27 in West Sussex and burst into a ball of flames.

Hill was placed in a medically-induced coma in the immediate aftermath of the incident, but has reportedly been released from an undisclosed specialist hospital.

A Sussex police spokeswoman said: “The pilot’s condition is improving. Police and investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), who are conducting parallel investigations, are looking to interview the pilot as soon as possible.”

An interim AAIB report published on Friday said two cockpit video cameras had been recovered, giving a partial view of the pilot and the instrument panel, which appeared to show that the aircraft was working normally.

Coroner Penny Schofield opened and adjourned an inquest into the deaths of the 11 people last week.

The victims were: wedding chauffeur Maurice Abrahams 76, from Brighton; retired engineer James Graham Mallinson, 72, from Newick, near Lewes; window cleaner and builder Mark Trussler, 54, from Worthing; cycling friends Dylan Archer, 42, from Brighton, and Richard Smith, 26, from Hove; NHS manager Tony Brightwell, 53, from Hove; grandfather Mark Reeves, 53, from Seaford; Worthing United footballers Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23; personal trainer Matt Jones, 24; and Daniele Polito, 23, from Worthing.

Hill works as an aerobatic stunt pilot and is part of the the RV8tors flying duo, which performs close formation aerobatic displays at speeds of up to 230mph. Hill and his fellow display pilot Alister Kay perform at events, private functions and weddings in RV-8 aircraft – small two-seat, home-built planes.

He also works as a pilot offering flight experiences to the public for the company Ultimate High, according to its website. He has years of flying experience, having worked as a light aircraft test pilot, an RAF Harrier GR7 instructor, a commercial pilot captaining Airbus planes and a stunt and aerobatic display pilot.

According to Ultimate High, he began his career flying Bulldogs in a university air squadron and, after excelling in fast-jet training, he was picked to go straight into instructing on the BAC Jet Provost, a jet-powered trainer aircraft used by the RAF. He then operated the Harrier GR5 and GR7 jets in Germany and has flown Airbus A340 and Boeing 757 and 767 airliners.


The AAIB was notified of the accident at 1235 hrs on Saturday 22 August 2015 and immediately initiated a Field Investigation. The aircraft was taking part in an air display at Shoreham Airport during which it conducted a manoeuvre with both a vertical and rolling component, at the apex of which it was inverted. Following the subsequent descent, the aircraft did not achieve level flight before it struck the westbound carriageway of the A27.

This Special Bulletin is published to provide preliminary information gathered from ground inspection, radar data, recorded images and other sources.

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