Coroner vows inquiry in to death of Red Arrows pilot will leave 'no stone unturned'
Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham was killed in 2011 ejecting from an aircraft while it was still on the ground
A coroner has vowed to leave “no stone unturned” in the search for the truth about how a Red Arrows pilot was killed ejecting from an aircraft while it was still on the ground.
Pressure on the elite Red Arrows team to perform as frequently as possible will be among the factors investigated as possible causes of the death of Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham in November 2011.
Stuart Fisher, the Central Lincolnshire coroner, promised the pilot's family: “This is going to be a very thorough inquiry. I will leave no stone unturned.”
Witnesses will be asked, he said, whether too much pressure is put on the Red Arrows to put on too many displays.
“There have been suggestions that the number of displays the team are required to perform has got to the point where it has put pressure on the team,” he said. “As a consequence there has been a reduction in the amount of time they display.”
Possible design faults with the ejector handle, which could have led to the pilot being flung 200 feet into the air, and with the main parachute, which failed to open properly, will both be considered, a pre-inquest hearing at the Lincoln Cathedral Centre heard. The secondary parachute opened but failed to save the pilot's life.
Flt Lt was on the ground in a Hawk T1 at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, when he was mysteriously ejected.
The seat firing handle was identified as a potential cause because other pilots have reported problems with it getting snagged by other pieces of equipment in the past.
More than three dozen people are expected to be called to give evidence to the inquest, among them an expert described as an “ejection seat anorak”.
Kirsty Stewart, the first female pilot to join the Red Arrows, will be among the witnesses and is expected to be quizzed about an occasion during a training exercise at RAF Valley when one of her straps went through the ejector seat handle, almost causing it to be activated.
She will be asked to give her account of an incident at RAF Valley in which one of her straps went through the ejector seat handle, nearly activating the seat, during a training exercise.
Tom Kark QC, who represented Flt Lt Cunningham's family at the pre-inquest review, said: “Obviously, on behalf of the family, they would like the widest exploration possible of why their son and brother died.”
Among the questioned they wanted answered, he said, was whatr had been done to address the potential problem with the ejector seat handle before Flt Lt Cunningham's death, and what had been done afterwards to ensure no more pilots were placed “in a similar dangerous position”.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...