Shoreham airshow crash pilot found not guilty

Hawker Hunter G-BXFI Hunter G-BXFI (Image: Alan Wilson CC BY-SA2.0)
Hawker Hunter G-BXFI (Image: Alan Wilson CC BY-SA2.0)

The pilot who crashed a Hawker Hunter during a display at the 2015 Shoreham Airshow has been acquitted of manslaughter.

Andy Hill was charged with the manslaughter of 11 people following an investigation by Sussex Police but a jury at the Old Bailey found the 54 year old not guilty.

He was also formally found not guilty of a separate charge of recklessly endangering an aircraft.

Families of the victims gasped the gallery as the verdict was read out and were visibly upset prompting the judge, Justice Andrew Edis, to address them saying “I can see that you are upset and you are absolutely entitled to be but despite being upset you have behaved in a way which does you great credit.” .

The defence focused on potential impairment of the pilot during the flight and central to this was a report by Dr Lupa who told the court that the temperature inside the cockpit could have been a factor.

His report concluded that the level of G-forces that Mr Hill experienced during the display at the Shoreham Airshow combined with the temperature may have led to “cognitive impairment caused by cerebral hypoxia”.

A report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) in 2017 concluded that the aircraft, Hawker Hunter G-BXFI, was fully operational at the time of the accident but criticised the pilot for not carrying out an “escape manoeuvre” when he realised the aircraft had not reached the required height and speed to safely fly that portion of the display.

The report said: ” The pilot either did not perceive that an escape manoeuvre was necessary, or did not realise that one was possible at the speed achieved at the apex of the manoeuvre.”

Outside the court, Andy Hill read out the names of the 11 victims in a statement saying: “A number of people were injured. I’m truly sorry for the part I played in their deaths and it’s they I will remember for the rest of my life.”

About Nick Harding 640 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.