Airshow report: MP issues statement

MP Tim Loughton with then Prime Minister David Cameron at Shoreham's old toll bridge
MP Tim Loughton with then Prime Minister David Cameron at Shoreham's old toll bridge

MP Tim Loughton has issued a statement following the publication of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch’s report.

The report was published at midday today and found the pilot performed a loop-the-loop manoeuvre too low and did not carry out an escape technique to abort it.

Mr Loughton said: “This is a very important day, not just for the families of the victims but for the entire local community, who were so affected by this terrible tragedy on that fateful day in August.

“The report has taken 18 months to produce, during which time there were a great many unanswered questions, particularly for the families of the 11 men who lost their lives. However it was important that no stone was left unturned and I hope this report today offers some form of closure to the families and provide answers to some of their questions. Having been down to Farnborough and met the experts who have compiled this report, I have seen at first hand the immense amount of work and detail that has gone into this very detailed report. I pay tribute to their professionalism and hard work. I think they would agree with me that we owe it to the victims that this report should be thorough and worthwhile piece of work which we all take seriously.

“It is important to appreciate that AAIB crash reports do not seek to assign blame or make accusations, rather they meticulously analyse what went wrong, how it went wrong, what could have done differently and, perhaps most importantly, what needs to change in the future to reduce the likelihood of a repeat tragedy.

“It is clear from the report that the aircraft was in a perfectly serviceable condition and had no obvious mechanical faults which would have inevitably resulted in the crash. Therefore, it will now be up to the police investigators to determine whether any criminal act has been committed and who – if anybody – is culpable of having not taken action which might have prevented this accident.

“It is important to remember that the safety record of civilian airshows in the UK is an impressive one and this tragedy represents the first loss of civilian life on the ground since the Farnborough air crash back in the 1950s, but the report identifies clear failures in risk assessments and risk controls that should have been operating at Shoreham and for whatever reason were not doing so effectively as they might have done. The report recommends a number of changes to the way that airshows operate in the future to minimise risks yet further.

“I welcome the AAIB’s safety recommendations, which they have made in this and previous reports, indeed many of those have already been put into effect by the CAA. Whilst these new recommendations should be implemented swiftly and as a matter of urgency, the Secretary of State for Transport has said, quite rightly, that these changes need to be proportionate, so that airshows, which are major spectator attractions – and in the case of Shoreham raise funds for highly respected charities – are not regulated out of existence altogether.

“I am grateful for the sensitivity which the AAIB have shown to the families of the victims, including giving them private advance briefings of the findings; I am sure they appreciate the thoroughness of the report, notwithstanding the time is has taken to produce. It is clear however that the AAIB has gone into tremendous detail, including commissioning a Hunter pilot to reconstruct the manoeuvres from the airshow and the exhaustive testing and cross checking of a considerable amount of equipment on the plane.

“For the sake of the families, we now need to see a swift decision by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service as to whether any legal action is going to take place with a full and transparent explanation of the reasons for that. This will then allow the coroner to can carry on with her important work and I pay tribute to the very sensitive way that she has engaged with the families. I am sure that has given some comfort to those people who just need to get to the bottom of exactly what happened to their loved ones, who found themselves in the wrong place in August 22, 2015.”