Families of Shoreham Airshow victims react to final crash report

Hundreds gathered to mark the first anniversary of the disaster last year
Hundreds gathered to mark the first anniversary of the disaster last year

Families of victims of the Shoreham Airshow disaster have expressed their disappointment with the outcome of the final report of the crash, lawyers have said.

A statement released by lawyers Irwin Mitchell said that while the Air Accidents Investigation Branch’s final report into the crash provided some answers, many unanswered questions remained.

Click here for a summary of the AAIB’s final report and the organisers’ response.

Rebecca Smith, specialist aviation lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The families affected want to be reassured that lessons have been learned to reduce the risk of a tragedy like this happening again and it is distressing to them to see that recommendations which they see as common sense have still not been acted upon.

“Indeed, the seeming reluctance by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to adopt a number of the AAIB’s recommendations is a cause of major concern. Questions may now be asked about whether the CAA has given adequate priority to ensuring the safety of the public.

“At the same time, the families and individuals who we represent have shown astonishing patience, dignity and grace in dealing with tragic loss and terrible injury. We call upon the CAA to acknowledge this and act upon all the recommendations of the AAIB as a matter of urgency.”

The lawyers said just nine of the 21 safety recommendations had so far been deemed sufficiently dealt with.

Work still yet to be completed by the Civil Aviation Authority means that some of the recommendations will remain outstanding until at least 2018, they said.

Addressing the role of the airshow organisers, Irwin Mitchell said there were ‘failures’ on the part of the organisers to ‘fully comply with CAA guidance in relation to the organising and running of air shows, insufficient account taken of lessons learned from previous air shows together with a failure to maintain the aircraft in accordance with CAA guidelines’.

In a statement, the parents of Matthew Grimstone, who died in the tragedy, said: “Apart from anything that the pilot may have got wrong it is very evident the CAA and the Shoreham Air Show organisers have got much to answer for.

“Rules laid down by the CAA were quite clearly inadequate and those that were there were, in some cases, not fully adhered to by the Air Show organisers.”

James Healy-Pratt, head of aviation and travel at Stewarts Law, which represents seven of the bereaved families, said the crash was a ‘preventable accident’.

Families he represented welcomed a call by the AAIB for an independent review of the governance of flying display activity in the UK, he noted.

He said: “Inadequate regulation, preparation and piloting all contributed in their own way to create this tragedy. Our families will now await the next two stages of the criminal investigation and the coroner’s investigation and inquest.”

The CAA said it was ‘essential’ to learn the lessons of the AAIB’s findings.

Chairman Dame Deidre Hutton said the body acted immediately following the crash to implement a comprehensive review of airshow safety.

She said: “During its investigation, the AAIB published 21 recommendations for the CAA, all of which we have acted on.

“We are continuing with our programme of introducing further safety enhancements for this year’s flying display season.

“The final AAIB report contains a further 10 recommendations for the CAA, all of which we will action as a priority.”

Sussex Police, meanwhile, said detectives would do all they could to submit a file of material to the Crown Prosecution Service before a pre-inquest review on June 20.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Rymarz said: “We continue to keep the families of those who lost their lives updated as we progress with our investigation.

“We have been waiting some time for this report and it will take us some time to review. Our progress has been dependent on this final report and as a result of the ruling in the High Court, much of the material contained in it has not been seen by the investigation team until now.

“We hope to do everything we can to submit a file of material to the CPS in advance of the pre-inquest review on June 20.

“As we have said before, this is an extraordinarily complex investigation, but we remain committed to finding answers for the families and friends of those who died.”

See

Irwin Mitchell represents 14 victims affected by the crash, including families of those died and people who were seriously injured.