Airbus fined £200,000 over Concorde death

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Aerospace firm Airbus has been fined £200,000 for health and safety failings which led to the death of a pensioner who fell from a gantry at a Concorde exhibition in Bristol.

Horace Livall, 71, plunged 16ft to the ground from the gantry as he was about to take a photograph of his daughter Julie during a tour of the supersonic aircraft in September 2004, two months after it opened.

He fell through the one-metre wide gap between the access gantry and the fuselage at Filton Airport, rolled off a wing and died in hospital from serious chest and head injuries.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Airbus and charity Bristol Aero Collection (BAC), who both ran the visitor centre, were warned several times about gaps between the access to the decommissioned Concorde in the months before the accident.

Despite no health and safety assessment having been carried out which would have highlighted the obvious risk of the gap, the centre was opened to the public in August 2004.

The centre, which welcomes 15,000 visitors a year, includes a tour of the craft guided by volunteers to feel like a real Concorde flight.

Concerns were raised on many occasions about the gap from employees and contractors, but instead each morning before visitors arrived temporary wooden plinths were put in place around the craft to allow them access.

In the weeks before Mr Livall's death, steps were being taken to hire contractors to build a permanent bridging solution, but this had not been done.

Inadequacies in communication and management within both organisations were blamed with both parties believing it was the other's responsibility to carry out a safety assessment.

A jury at the inquest into Mr Livall's death last year recorded an open verdict but attached that there was a lack of a health and safety assessment, lack of communication and "unsatisfactory duty of care" to their conclusion.