Shoreham air crash was ‘purely because of pilot error’, jurors are told as court case gets under way

The trial has started of pilot Andrew Hill, whose plane crashed during the Shoreham Airshow, killing 11 men.

Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 1:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:20 pm
Pilot Andrew Hill, who was charged over the Shoreham Airshow crash Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

A juror was previously discharged by Mr Justice Andrew Edis and needed to be replaced.

The jury now comprises eight women and four men.

Jurors have heard the Shoreham Airshow crash happened on a ‘beautiful sunny Saturday’ on August 22 2015.

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‘A large number of aircraft were to take part in that show including a Hawker Hunter jet, which first flew in 1955 and which was piloted by Mr Andrew, or as he's known “Andy” Hill,’ prosecutor Tom Kark QC said, opening the case.

However, part-way through the display the aircraft crashed into the A27 road just north of the airfield, he added.

Mr Kark said the jet was ‘in excellent working condition’ and the crash happened ‘purely because of pilot error’.

Mr Kark went on: ‘The aircraft disintegrated and that crash caused a massive fireball.

‘The effects of that crash were devastating and 11 people lost their lives as a result.’

Hill ‘miraculously escaped because his cockpit separated from the rest of the aircraft’ and he was thrown out of it onto the ground, then saved by emergency services.

Mr Kark said: ‘The prosecution case is that it was Mr Hill's serious negligence that led directly to the loss of those 11 lives.

‘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.’

The 54-year-old, of Sandon, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, is standing trial after denying 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.