Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Arrows pilot died of fall injuries

Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham died after being ejected from his Hawk T1 while on the ground at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire

A Red Arrows pilot died of multiple injuries due to a fall from height following ejection from an aircraft, an inquest has heard.

Flight Lieutenant Sean James Cunningham, 35, was killed when he was ejected from his Hawk T1 while on the ground at the Red Arrows base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire on November 8, the coroner at Lincoln Registration Office heard.

The inquest heard that Flt Lt Cunningham had completed ground safety checks when the ejector seat of his Hawk jet was deployed.

The main parachute did not deploy and the pilot did not become separated from his seat during the incident, the hearing was told. He landed on the ground still strapped into his seat.

An ambulance was called and Flt Lt Cunningham was taken to Lincoln County Hospital where he was confirmed dead in A&E at 12.14pm.

A full investigation into how the ejector seat deployed is being carried out and further tests are being done, the inquest heard.

A post-mortem examination was carried out and the cause of death was given as multiple injuries due to a fall from height following ejection from an aircraft. Toxicology tests were performed and came back negative.

Det Supt Shaun West, from Lincolnshire Police, told the inquest they were investigating the incident and were preparing a file for the coroner.

He said there were two critical questions they were investigating - why the ejector seat activated and why the parachute mechanism did not do what it was reasonably expected to. He said they were using experts to help them examine the ejector seat.

Coroner Stuart Fisher adjourned the inquest to a later date but said it could be "months" before it is reopened.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz