16/01/2019 14:03 GMT | Updated 16/01/2019 16:52 GMT

Shoreham Air Show Crash: 11 People Died Due To 'Pilot Error', Trial Hears

Andrew Hill's survival from the 2015 accident was described as "miraculous".


The eleven people who died in the Shoreham air show crash lost their lives “purely because of pilot error”, a court has heard. 

Andrew Hill was attempting to do a loop during a planned display on August 22 2015 at the air show when his plane crashed into the A27.

The plane “disintegrated” upon impact and “caused a massive fireball”, the jury at The Old Bailey heard.

Prosecutor Tom Kark described Hill’s survival as “miraculous”, after the cockpit separated from the rest of the aircraft.

Kark said the 1955 Hawker Hunter Jet Hill craft was “in excellent working condition” and accused Hill of being a dangerous flyer.

He said: “The pilot was attempting a manoeuvre called a bent loop which requires the aircraft to reach a specific height before it begins its downward trajectory.

“Mr Hill did not reach the height required but nevertheless continued the manoeuvre.”

Kark pointed out that Hill had a reputation for being a “competent display pilot” but said there were times “he has taken risks or flown in a way one would not expect a careful and competent fast jet display pilot to do.”

He added when Hill was performing a stunt at the Southport air show the year before the crash, the “dangerous manoeuvre” was halted by a “stop stop stop” call.

Shoreham flight display director Rod Dean was not watching Hill’s display and none of the flying display committee issued a stop call before the crash, the court heard.

Kark used a plastic model of the jet to show how the aircraft would have been unable to complete its full loop.

He said Hill did not take the aircraft into a “relatively straightforward escape manoeuvre and instead attempted to complete the stunt.”

In written statements to police, Hill said he believed G-force pressures affecting him may have contributed to the crash and said he had no recollection of the accident, jurors heard.

But the prosecution said the G-forces at Shoreham would be “nothing unusual” for an experienced pilot like Hill, and that fast jet pilots train in methods to counteract G-force.

Mr Kark told jurors a number of expert witnesses would be called for the prosecution in the trial.

He said that they have all discounted the possibility of G force-induced loss of consciousness or loss of consciousness as being a factor in the crash.

“In other words he did not lose consciousness in that aircraft”, Mr Kark said.

The 54-year-old is charged with 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and recklessly or negligently endangering an aircraft. He denies the charges. 

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has concluded the crash was a result of pilot error, due to Hill’s failure to recognise the plane was too low in the air at the time to perform the loop.