Monday, January 22, 2018

BAe Hawk T1, XX177, Red Arrows RAF: Ejector Seat Manufacturer Admits Failings

An ejector seat company has admitted breaching health and safety law over the death of Red Arrows pilot Sean Cunningham.

Martin-Baker Aircraft Ltd, the maker of the seat, admitted the failings at Lincoln Crown Court this morning.

Flight Lieutenant Cunningham died in November 2011 after his ejector seat initiated while his Hawk jet remained on the ground at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

The seat fired him 300ft into the air and he hit the ground with ‘tremendous’ force, an inquest into his death heard.

He suffered multiple injuries in the incident and was pronounced dead after being airlifted to hospital.

The Health and Safety Executive brought charges against Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd and representatives of the Buckinghamshire-based firm entered a not guilty plea at Lincoln Crown Court last May.

The charge was  that Martin Baker Aircraft failed to conduct its undertaking in relation to the design, manufacture, supply and support of the ejection seat in a way that did not expose non-employees to risk.

Statutory Director of ejector seat manufacturer Martin-Baker Aircraft Ltd, John Martin, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company, to Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in connection with Mr Cunningham’s death.

The parachute on the 35-year-old’s ejector seat did not deploy and the South African-born airman later died.

Flight Lieutenant Cunningham, an experienced pilot and Iraq war veteran, moved to Coventry from Johannesburg at the age of nine.

After joining the RAF he completed tours in Iraq before he was selected for the Red Arrows in September 2010.

Hundreds turned out at Coventry Cathedral for his funeral.

In 2014, after a three-week inquest into his death, a coroner recorded a narrative verdict and criticised the manufacturer of the ejector seat.

Story and photos ➤

Recommendations issued to prevent recurrence, following the Service Inquiry into the accident involving Hawk TMk1 XX177 on November 08, 2011 ➤

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