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Red Arrows back with nine-plane displays after safety sign-off

Team has flown world-famous diamond formation for first time in 18 months after 2011 tragedies

The RAF's Red Arrows air display team has been cleared by the Chief of the Air Staff to fly in displays this year, the RAF said today.

The team, based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, has been awarded its public display authority (PDA) for 2013 by Sir Stephen Dalton.

The PDA, which it must get each year, confirms that the display proposed for the year is safe and meets the standards expected of a team that represents the Royal Air Force and the UK.

Sir Stephen said: "The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, have designed a display of precision formation flying that encapsulates the agility and demonstrates the pure flying qualities required in the Royal Air Force.

"The Reds are an iconic symbol of the United Kingdom and their displays are vividly demonstrating excellence in precision, teamwork and dynamic flying."

The PDA is effectively a sign-off that the display programme the Red Arrows are planning - practised meticulously during the "closed season" - is safe, an RAF spokesman said.

With changes to the nine-aircraft team, and new manoeuvres added to the routine, the display has to be checked each year.

Earlier this year the team flew in its world famous diamond formation of nine planes, over Lincolnshire, for the first time in 18 months, then continued practice from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus for extra winter training, benefiting from the better weather conditions.

The Red Arrows lost two pilots in accidents in 2011, leading to a decision to fly a team of seven aircraft in last year's display season due to the lack of time to fit new pilots into the full nine-plane formation.

Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, 33, from Rutland, was killed when his Hawk aircraft came down after performing at an air show near Bournemouth Airport on August 20, 2011. An inquest later heard the likely cause of the crash was that he lost consciousness due to the G-force.

Three months later, Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham, 35, was killed after being ejected from his Hawk while on the ground at RAF Scampton. Last month the Crown Prosecution Service said no charges will be brought in relation to his death.