Shoreham Airshow organisers defend safety record

The Blades perform at this year's Shoreham Airshow, before the tragic crash
The Blades perform at this year's Shoreham Airshow, before the tragic crash

AVIATION authorities are ‘thoroughly examining’ the circumstances of the Shoreham Airshow crash to see if improvements to ‘rigorous’ safety measures should be made.

The Civil Aviation Authority is among the organisations investigation the devastating crash but stressed safety standards of airshows in the UK were already the highest ‘in the world’.

The Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA), which organises the annual event, has also defended its long-standing safety record.

A RAFA spokesman said: “The team at Shoreham have many years of experience in running air shows throughout the UK and all aircraft have to be certificated and all pilots authorised by the CAA before they are allowed to undertake display routines at any air show.

“The air show itself has to meet rigorous safety standards that are laid down by the CAA who review these on an ongoing basis.”

Several national newspapers questioned the future of airshows nationwide in built-up areas.

The Telegraph led with an interview with Sue Grimstone, mother of footballer, Matthew, who died in the crash.

She called for displays to be conducted over the sea, after the military jet hit several cars on the busy A27.

She said: “Air shows should be over the sea. It should never have been over that road. It’s such a waste.”

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton warned against ‘knee-jerk’ reactions, however.

He said lessons must be learned but thoughts in the days following the incident should be focused on the victims of the crash.

“Clearly a lot of work goes into making sure that the safety of everybody involved in this airshow, everybody visiting this airshow, everybody passing this airshow, is the major consideration,” he said.

£This is a working airport as well. Every day planes fly in and out. They have done for the last 104 years. This is a tragic accident and I think what we shouldn’t do is very knee-jerk reactions to ‘should we be banning all airshows’.

“Clearly we must learn the lessons when we know what those lessons are but the most important thing now is that our hearts and prayers are with the families of those coming to terms with the tragic events of yesterday.”

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) deployed a team to the scene on Saturday.

The investigation is likely to be lengthy process – the previous fatal accident at Shoreham Airshow in 2007 took two years to investigate.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “The safety standards that must be met by all major civil air displays in the UK are among the very highest in the world. All air display arrangements, including the pilots and aircraft, must meet rigorous safety requirements. Individual display pilots are only granted approval following a thorough test of their abilities.

“All aviation safety requirements are regularly reviewed to ensure they provide the highest possible levels of protection. Events of this nature are very rare, but we will now thoroughly examine the circumstances to establish if further improvements can be made.

“We immediately commenced our review processes and remain committed to continuously enhancing the safety of all civil aviation and will provide further updates in the days to come.”