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Families welcome news Shoreham air disaster probe will not be reopened

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said it made the decision after considering new material ‘very carefully’.

Pilot Andrew Hill was acquitted over the Shoreham air crash (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Pilot Andrew Hill was acquitted over the Shoreham air crash (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Families of victims of the Shoreham Airshow disaster have welcomed news investigators will not reopen the probe into the crash in the wake of pilot Andrew Hill’s acquittal.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was presented with further material in June about the potential effects of G-forces on Mr Hill and was asked to review its original findings.

But after considering the information “very carefully”, it has decided not to reopen the investigation and its original findings still stand, a spokesman said on Friday.

The review was requested by Mr Hill, PA understands.

He had been attempting a loop when his Hawker Hunter jet exploded into a fireball on the A27 in West Sussex on August 22 2015, killing 11 men.

The AAIB’s report in 2017 concluded the crash was down to pilot error.

After he was cleared of manslaughter at the Old Bailey in March, Mr Hill said he was “truly sorry” for losing control of his aircraft during the display.

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The crash in August 2015 left 11 people dead (Sussex Police/PA)

When news of the AAIB’s review emerged, West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield said the victims’ families were being caused “unnecessary distress” by delays in the inquest process.

Jonathan Smith, the father of 26-year-old victim Richard Smith, told PA the AAIB’s rejection of the fresh submissions in the review was “welcomed” by families and he hoped this would mean the inquest can continue without any further delays.

He said: “The impact of these very late submissions has been that, yet again, the commencement of the inquest is delayed.

“The impact of this ongoing delay and uncertainty amongst many of the families is palpable and damaging.”

A team of inspectors with “extensive expertise” in aircraft performance, human factors, fast jet operations and display flying were involved in examining the fresh material, the AAIB said.

New analytical tools were used to determine the aircraft’s flight path in more detail than before and calculate G-forces to a greater degree of accuracy as part of the independent review, the AAIB said.

The results confirmed the findings of the final report published in March 2017 “remain valid”, a spokesman added.

In the wake of the AAIB’s announcement, the coroner said the inquest into the crash would continue, with the next hearing taking place in January.

PA

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