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Shoreham Crash Blamed on Pilot


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23 hours ago, Stonar said:

The 'what caused the crash?' is that the pilot flew too low and too slow. The 'why did that happen?'is not something I am qualified to comment on, but the idea that the pilot somehow confused two different aircraft types seems a bit far fetched to me.

I'm not a pilot, have no axe to grind here and am doing no more than applying common sense. SWMBO and myself both drive different models of car by the same manufacturer, but I always know which one I'm driving :)

I don't think anyone apart from certain headlines are suggesting he forgot what type he was flying. But reversion is known problem for pilots who have more experience in one type than another. I pulled this out of the report:

 

Quote

The majority of the pilot’s jet display flying was in the Jet Provost, which has significantly different performance and lower apex gate heights in looping manoeuvres than the Hunter.  His greater experience and recency on the Jet Provost meant that he was more likely to be familiar with the speeds and handling characteristics of this type, and to recall them more easily than those for the Hunter. 

While the report doesn't explicitly state that's what happened. It is one of the more likely explanations and is emphasised in the report. Flying is a numbers game, even display flying and aerobatics. Seat of the pants flying is long gone even in the lightest aircraft. You live or die based on whether or not you use the correct parameters for a particular manoeuvre. Only this time, other people died.

 

It's too simple to say he flew too low and too slow. It's not enough to know what caused the crash. That was obvious from an early stage. The 'why' is important particularly to other pilots so they can avoid doing it themselves. It's not enough to say the pilot screwed up, case closed. Even if that isn't what happened on the day the lesson is that reversion is a problem that pilots need to stay aware of.

 

 

Edited by noelh
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On 3/11/2017 at 8:36 PM, RichardPrice said:

So, are Hunters as a type still grounded, or are competent pilots allowed to fly them again...?

 

At the moment all civilian registered Hunters in the UK remain grounded. The aircraft at Scampton are on the military register. They are not covered by this restriction and have been undertaking their normal ops since before Shoreham without any interruption.

 

I have a horrible, horrible feeling that the CAA will not revoke the grounding order. No evidence for that, just a hunch.

 

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One thing that has come to mind reading these last few posted is the subject of pilot reversion. I recall some considerable years ago here in New Zealand reading an article, probably in the aviation press, about a display pliot, maybe one of the Hannas, Ray or Mark, or maybe Tom Middleton (RIP) or Keith Skilling, both prominent Kiwi display pilots, who displayed their routine on a hand written placard on the instrument panel with details of the routine to be followed, & vital stats, heights speeds etc. I wonder if such as this is standard procedure for all display pilots?

Steve.

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35 minutes ago, stevehnz said:

One thing that has come to mind reading these last few posted is the subject of pilot reversion. I recall some considerable years ago here in New Zealand reading an article, probably in the aviation press, about a display pliot, maybe one of the Hannas, Ray or Mark, or maybe Tom Middleton (RIP) or Keith Skilling, both prominent Kiwi display pilots, who displayed their routine on a hand written placard on the instrument panel with details of the routine to be followed, & vital stats, heights speeds etc. I wonder if such as this is standard procedure for all display pilots?

Steve.

 

From a limited observation that seems more an indication of the attitude of the pilot.

 

There have been other accidents at airshows which have had the AAIB unable to explain the inexplicable actions of pilots who had better track records than Andy Hill who had screwed up a slow roll in the Jet Provost recently before and recovered by aborting the manoeuver and breaking over the crowd line - a massive no-no. 'Hoof' Proudfoot and Guy Bancroft-Wilson were both highly experienced, highly competent display pilots and both crashed capable aircraft at airshows. Bancroft-Wilsons was fairly similar to Shoreham in fact in that he entered a loop far too low and slow, parted control over the top and hit the ground in an incipient spin. The AAIB reports for both those accidents are short, explaining that no pre-existing faults were found to compromise the aircraft and that the pilots could potentially have been distracted by something. Bancroft-Wilson's was further explained away in that he had been requested to fill in a gap in the display programme by ad-libbing, something many display pilots don't like doing but on the other hand he agreed to do it and knew that particular aircraft and its requirements very well indeed. Two key differences that perhaps change the level of attention and subsequent depth of the investigation were that neither Proudfoot nor Bancroft-Wilson killed anyone else and neither of them had publically screwed up recently before that might have given them or anyone else for that matter cause to consider their approach to display flying before letting them display again. I've seen Andy Hill display the RV-8 and it was a good display. At no point did it look like he didn't know what he was doing in that aircraft. After the JP incident I personally would have had a scare.

 

The owner/pilot of the Yak-3 White 11 frightened himself at Little Gransden last year in what I heard looked like an accelerated stall and recovery at extremely low level over a field very close to where my friend (an ex-RAF, aviation enthusiast, now policeman on duty keeping freeloaders out of fields) was standing. I think I saw an advertisement for the aircraft shortly afterwards. Not that I'm saying any pilot should hang up his flying suit if he gets it wrong, but that shock of having messed up badly and almost killed one's self and considering whether to carry on, or at very least consider what to do differently in future is probably more what I at least would expect to see.

 

An on-camera incident for which the only course of action to avoid a probably fatal crash was a tight turn over the crowd, followed by another big error in a different aircraft at a different display not too long after has, I interpret, had a number of people at the AAIB and elsewhere wondering "How could this happen?".

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Jamie, your post has reminded me of a tragic accident I witnessed at Warbirds Over Wanaka in 1994. After a wet start that lead to the early part of the show being scrubbed on the Sunday, the weather fined up & a revised programme got underway. A Chipmunk pair displayed & then Ian Reynolds did a solo display. I'm not sure if this was originally intended but it appeared afterwards as though he'd been asked to extend his routine in the interests of continuity, during which he rolled into a half loop at insufficient altitude. It was sickening to watch it knowing as he did so it was going to end badly, as it did to the tragic demise of Mr Reynolds in front of  a large crowd. I guess if nothing else the message is improvisation had no part in an airshow routine but that all routines should be planned & rehearsed if possible, notated at the very least. This is not intended as a commentary on the Shoreham tradgedy per se but these findings in one way or another will have caused some inward looking among the display fraternity in the UK & I would guess internationally.

Steve.

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On ‎12‎/‎03‎/‎2017 at 4:30 AM, Stonar said:

SWMBO and myself both drive different models of car by the same manufacturer, but I always know which one I'm driving

Not the same as having to remember a heap of performance figures; cars don't stall (their engines do!) or reach maximum never exceed speeds, etc. I fly a number of different types infrequently and struggle to remember the differences in even basic figures like approach and stall speeds at times without having them on my kneepad. I compensate for this by ensuring I'm at the highest of the safety speeds when in doubt.

 

While low altitude aerobatics look great, they're fraught with danger - even if you're highly experienced.

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On 13/03/2017 at 11:26 AM, Bell209 said:

Not the same as having to remember a heap of performance figures; cars don't stall (their engines do!) or reach maximum never exceed speeds, etc. I fly a number of different types infrequently and struggle to remember the differences in even basic figures like approach and stall speeds at times without having them on my kneepad. I compensate for this by ensuring I'm at the highest of the safety speeds when in doubt.

 

While low altitude aerobatics look great, they're fraught with danger - even if you're highly experienced.

 

Of course not, but some are suggesting he somehow thought he was flying a Provost rather than a Hunter, not simply confusing the numbers for the two types, which is what the report actually hypothesises. To physically confuse the two types seems to defy common sense.

 

There is absolutely zero evidence that he did in fact apply the Provost numbers at the safety gate at the top of the loop. It is simply one of many suggestions that the CAA report makes to attempt to explain why the pilot continued the manoeuvre from an altitude which inevitably led to him flying into the ground. The only person who can explain why he did that is the pilot, and he can't remember.

 

I've re-read that report and have developed a feeling that in an effort not to apportion blame, which is not the object of the report, the authors have almost jumped through hoops to throw up alternative explanations with remarkably little evidence to support most of them.

 

Cheers

 

Steve

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To physically confuse the two types seems to defy common sense.

Your right he wouldn't have confused the two types, the report doesn't even suggest that. But he may have used the wrong numbers in error. There is evidence of that and it is a known problem. I've done it myself. Most pilots have at some point.

 

If you don't accept that as a possible explanation then the main alternative is that he blatantly and carelessly started a manoeuvre at an altitude and speed which he knew would have ended exactly that way it did. Now he was an experienced fast jet pilot and that's unlikely. So there has to be another reason and the one that fits best is the confusion over the numbers.

 

Unless there's another explanation that fits the circumstances. That's the best anyone can do.

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On 3/12/2017 at 10:11 PM, T7 Models said:

 

At the moment all civilian registered Hunters in the UK remain grounded. The aircraft at Scampton are on the military register. They are not covered by this restriction and have been undertaking their normal ops since before Shoreham without any interruption.

 

I have a horrible, horrible feeling that the CAA will not revoke the grounding order. No evidence for that, just a hunch.

 

 

I am in agreement with you on that, in that I think the CAA took this as an advantageous time to get the Hunter out from civilian operations.  Personally I think the CAA are trying to achieve a "zero jets" policy in private non-commercial hands, and that will be the end of that.  

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1 hour ago, RichardPrice said:

 

I am in agreement with you on that, in that I think the CAA took this as an advantageous time to get the Hunter out from civilian operations.  Personally I think the CAA are trying to achieve a "zero jets" policy in private non-commercial hands, and that will be the end of that.  

 

When you look at wasn't done correctly you can understand why the CAA might kick up about old jet fighters or anything else for that matter. As long as all the operators play to the regulations and act like professionals what else can the CAA do? Enough regs to bury the operators who have on many occasions gone for a cheap way to fly or  could be they just didn't understand the world they were trading in....The people sat at the traffic lights or watching the show on the grass didn't deserve what they ended up with, the Hunter crashing on them.

IMO

Edited by bzn20
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1 hour ago, bzn20 said:

 

When you look at wasn't done correctly you can understand why the CAA might kick up about old jet fighters or anything else for that matter. As long as all the operators play to the regulations and act like professionals what else can the CAA do? Enough regs to bury the operators who have on many occasions gone for a cheap way to fly or  could be they just didn't understand the world they were trading in....The people sat at the traffic lights or watching the show on the grass didn't deserve what they ended up with, the Hunter crashing on them.

IMO

 

Have the CAA surveyed all Hunter operators as part of this investigation?  Did they find endemic issues with maintaining this type?  Or did they just ground the entire type off the basis of investigating an incident involving one airframe that had maintenance failings?

 

No, the people who died and were injured didn't deserve what they ended up with - but what they ended up with didn't happen because the aircraft was a Hunter or even because it was this Hunter.  There were maintenance failings, but they didn't contribute to the incident.  So why ground the Hunter, and why ground *just* the Hunter.  And why to *continue* to ground the Hunter?

 

If there is an endemic issue with maintenance of private aircraft, then that needs to be dealt with across the board.  Instead we have one type grounded.  Its ridiculous.

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Very well put, Richard.

 

The AAIB report has found that the aircraft was not at fault. The CAA have issued maintenance warnings regarding aspects of the engine, but this is a blanket message to all operators of all ex-military jets in the UK and not just those with Avons.

 

I think that in the CAA's eyes the Hunter is now a 'toxic' brand. I think that they fear the potential bad publicity that rescinding the grounding order may bring them, Regulator lets death jets fly!, that sort of thing, and the simplest option may be to keep them grounded until the respective permits to fly are expired and the owners will have to spend too much money to renew or just sell them abroad. You can choose any reason you like, from coroner's inquest to (potential) criminal proceedings. Interestingly, of the twelve G-registered Hunters based in the UK, five are owned by Hawker Hunter Aviation and will probably only fly again under military identity, and none now have valid permits to fly. There is one other, G-KAXF in the Netherlands, though I am not sure if the grounding order affects that one as it is not UK owned or based.

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11 hours ago, T7 Models said:

There is one other, G-KAXF in the Netherlands, though I am not sure if the grounding order affects that one as it is not UK owned or based.

...but it is UK registered. I'll bet it can't fly either - shame; I've only seen one fly at Duxford and it was beautiful to watch - the Spitfire of the jet age, I reckon.

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18 hours ago, noelh said:

 

 

If you don't accept that as a possible explanation then the main alternative is that he blatantly and carelessly started a manoeuvre at an altitude and speed which he knew would have ended exactly that way it did. Now he was an experienced fast jet pilot and that's unlikely. So there has to be another reason and the one that fits best is the confusion over the numbers.

 

Unless there's another explanation that fits the circumstances. That's the best anyone can do.

 

I don't accept or discount that explanation. It is just one of the options offered in the report to try and explain why the pilot did what he did without saying he knowingly continued with the manoeuvre from a height from which he was unlikely to recover, thereby implicitly apportioning blame (it's what I meant about jumping through hoops above). Only the pilot could know what he thought he was doing. Whether he will ever remember or not I don't know, I'm not a doctor :)

Cheers

Steve

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