RAF investigates jet collision at airshow: Organisers defend safety rules after fighters crash in mid-air

A ROYAL Air Force investigation has begun into the cause of a mid-air collision between two Russian fighters at the world's largest airshow at the weekend.

The organisers yesterday defended safety measures at the International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, saying they worked properly and avoided putting 250,000 spectators at risk.

The Ministry of Defence said airshow safety rules were unlikely to be revised as no one had been injured. Squadron Leader Harry Burgoyne, a tattoo spokesman, said it was the first accident in the show's 20-year history.

'We don't see any reason why we should change our rules. It was an accident. Unfortunately accidents happen, and it's under investigation,' he said.

A team from the Inspectorate of Flight Safety was examining the wreckage of the two MiG-29s while the second day's show programme proceeded without incident yesterday.

The investigators plan to interview the two civilian pilots who ejected in front of a capacity crowd - the largest single spectator event in Britain.

Both pilots, Sergey Tresvyatsky and Alexandr Beschastnov, from the Russian Flight Research Institute, ejected safely. Mr Tresvyatsky, 39, suffered a minor back injury and Mr Beschastnov, 36, a fractured jaw. They were released from Princess Alexandra Military Hospital at RAF Wroughton in Swindon, Wiltshire, after treatment. A hospital spokeswoman said both left in 'reasonable' physical condition.

Twelve spectators were treated for shock and a woman received minor scorch injuries.

More than 200 aircraft from around the world were taking part in flying displays at the show to mark the RAF's 75th anniversary.

The investigators will also interview flight controllers and examine footage of the crash filmed by television cameras. The investigation is expected to last several months.

The collision occurred as the pilots attempted a cross-over. A split-second after the pilots ejected, the jets broke up in mid-air and crashed to the ground.

One fighter came down at the end of the runway, while the second came down more than a mile away in a field.

Peter Sandall, of Devizes, Wiltshire, who saw the crash said: 'The two fighters were painted yellow and blue. They were coming to the end of their aerial display when one jet flew down the length of the runway and the other was performing a loop to join him. As they came together they collided - one on top of the other. One burst into flames, the planes separated and crashed. The pilots were extremely lucky to have ejected safely.'

Stricter safety rules governing airshows held in Britain were introduced in 1989 following a spate of accidents. In the worst incident, two jets collided and killed 69 spectators when they crashed during an airshow at Ramstein in Germany. The MiG-29 has a chequered safety history. One crashed at the Paris Airshow four years ago.

Sir Jock Kennedy, the tattoo chairman, yesterday defended the airshow's safety record. 'We lay down minimum heights and we lay down conditions of flying. They were flying away from the crowd when they entered the manoeuvre, and they were at a reasonable height - probably some 800ft or so.

'That's exactly as planned. No manoeuvre is permitted flying towards the crowd. That's quite deliberate and we have got reams and reams of safety procedures and flying instructions to cover all the flying. And I'm reasonably satisfied that they were met.'

The MOD maintains its rules for airshows have always been 'at least as stringent' as those for civilian shows which are governed by the Civil Aviation Authority. Civilian organisers attracting crowds of more than 500 people must have CAA permission.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own