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Airshow Tragedy

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 Hawker Hunter T7 crashed at the Shoreham airshown in England last Saturday.

 

The pilot is critical in hospital but at least 11 other people were killed on the adjacent main road (A27) but the police suggest that the loss could rise to 20 when all the weckage is cleared fom the road.

 

The CAA is considering whether air show safety requirements should change.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news

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Such a tragic accident, I was thinking of going to this with my partner so we could see the Avro Vulcan for the last time, but ended up going to see family. I dread to think what could have happened as the crash site is at the main junction/entry to the airport and could have been in the queue of traffic.

 

My thoughts and prays are with those who lost loved ones, those injured and for emergency services having to work a scene of horrific devastation.

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I do like airshows so I don't want to start a movement against them. One thing I was wondering about this one as I have never been to this one before is, why isn't this airshow held over the water south of the airport?

 

I have been to the airshow in Toronto that has about a million spectators every year and that one is held over Lake Ontario in a large area closed off to boats, creating the greatest front row seat along the waterfront for spectators to see. That one has had crashes but the aircraft end up in the lake away from spectators or roads or buildings etc. The other one like this is in San Francisco. It just makes sense to have it over the water when it is right there anyways and lots of places to watch along the waterfront.

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The CAA has annouced that vintage jets will not be allowed to perform "high-energy aerobatics" over land at air shows after the Shoreham crash, regulators have said. Such planes would be "limited to flypasts", and all Hawker Hunter jets have been temporarily grounded.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34044383

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I know that after Ramstein,The A/C velocity vector was supposed to never direct towards the crowd. I see that they have relaxed this rule.

This was very evident at Quonset Point ,when I was there.

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One thing I was wondering about this one as I have never been to this one before is, why isn't this airshow held over the water south of the airport?

 

As far as I'm aware the Shoreham Airshow is far more than just a flying display -- it also incorporates a significant static display on the airfield itself, which would be lost if the airshow was to be moved to the coast. Having said that, it is on the whole a very built-up area which presents a number of challenges for this sort of event.

 

 

 


I know that after Ramstein,The A/C velocity vector was supposed to never direct towards the crowd. I see that they have relaxed this rule.

 

The CAA in the UK still very much requires the energy vector to be directed away from the crowd line. However, this is not the issue with this incident: the crowd itself was very much protected. However, in this case the aircraft came down on a public road, and the casualties were people going about their normal business who were not specifically watching the airshow.

 

No doubt the investigation will be looking at if and how the regulations should be changed in order to take greater account of the public nearby who are not spectators.

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As far as I'm aware the Shoreham Airshow is far more than just a flying display -- it also incorporates a significant static display on the airfield itself, which would be lost if the airshow was to be moved to the coast.

 

Not to mention the money the organisers would lose.

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That's exactly it Gerry.  It's simply not practical to effectively fence off such a large area so that entry fee's can be collected.  Until recently we had a seafront airshow here in Southend and only the first one, in 1986, attempted to charge an entry fee.  After that, it was held every year for 26 years with up to 200,000 visitors on each day of the 2 day show and the costs being covered by sponsorship from local businesses.

 

As Simon said though, the Shoreham show is far more than a flying display.

 

Despite the very sad loss of life, I can't help thinking the new restrictions being introduced are an unnecessary kneejerk reaction to the first public deaths at an airshow in the UK since 1953.  Sometimes, accidents happen and sure we should learn from them, but not by simply banning the activity.

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I've been discussing this with some people who aren't overly familiar with aviation. The general theme seems to be abject horror that people going about their business driving along a main road were killed when an antique fighter jet crashed on their heads.

 

 - "It's an old aeroplane maintained by some anoraks working out of their garden shed!"

 

This "antique fighter jet" is operated by a very professional outfit that is regularly audited by the aviation authorities and the aircraft itself is insured to the tune of millions of pounds because it is a very valuable asset. It is not maintained by amateurs working out of their garden sheds,

 

 - "They shouldn't have been doing stunts with such an old aeroplane!"

 

The Hunter was designed as a fighter. It was designed and built to do far more than what it was doing at that display. The manoeuvres performed at the display are specifically performed so as not to place too much stress on a valuable airframe.

 

 - "The pilot was showing off!"

 

The pilot was a 51 year old ex-RAF Harrier pilot now flying an Airbus for a major UK airline. Not someone likely to be "showing off". He will have a special dispensation to display that aircraft, and to gain that dispensation he will have had to demonstrate to the aviation authorities that he is capable of safely and competently displaying that aircraft. The display routine would have been extensively rehearsed and will have been approved by the airshow organisers.

 

 - "The aircraft came down in a built up area!"

 

Go and look at Google Earth. Yes Shoreham airport is sandwiched between two towns, but the runway and therefore the display line are aligned in such a way as to avoid these towns. The aircraft did not come down in a built up area. It came down on a road junction where traffic was queueing to enter the airshow. Pretty much the worst possible place it could have come down other than on top of the crowd itself. This incident was akin to being struck by lightning - extremely unlikely.

 

 - "The Red Arrows won't display at Shoreham because it's unsafe!"

 

The Red Arrows are a display team consisting of nine fast jets. Their display footprint is huge, far greater than a single aircraft.

 

 - "Airshows are so dangerous they must be banned!"

 

The last time anybody was killed on the ground at a British airshow was at the SBAC Farnborough Airshow in 1952 when the prototype DH.110 broke up and one of the engines came down on top of the crowd. British airshows are among the most heavily regulated in the world and have the safety record to prove it. The sad fact is more people have been killed at football matches in the UK than have been killed at airshows.

 

So the problem is we have a sensationalist media running 24/7 coverage over the weekend, giving us a minute by minute updates on the death toll accompanied by all sorts of shocking pictures and videos. The facts are lost - even ignored - in the rush to put out the next shocking and hysterical headline. The CAA had its hand forced by the hysterical media coverage. To be fair I think the restrictions announced were the minimum the CAA could realistically do to placate public opinion and take the pressure off themselves. From what I've read the new restrictions will only affect a relatively small number of displays at the remaining airshows of the season.

 

But hey-ho when did we ever let the facts stop a good public lynch mob in this country?

 

Food for thought.... if BA38 had suffered its double engine failure just a couple of minutes earlier it would have come down on central London with hundreds left dead. Yet nobody went bananas over the hundreds of airliners flying into and out of Heathrow over the centre of a major metropolis every day.

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I've been discussing this with some people who aren't overly familiar with aviation.

 

Let's wait for the accident report before we start more speculation.

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As far as I'm aware the Shoreham Airshow is far more than just a flying display -- it also incorporates a significant static display on the airfield itself, which would be lost if the airshow was to be moved to the coast. Having said that, it is on the whole a very built-up area which presents a number of challenges for this sort of event.

 

 

 

They do the same in Toronto as well, you pay money to access the airport to see the aircraft on display but the airshow itself is over the lake and for the majority free to watch. They have a premium seating area along the lake to watch if you want to pay or you can watch it for free standing anywhere along the lake shore.

 

But yes organizers need to make money so they should just charge to access Shoreham before and after the airshow to see the aircraft but just have the airshow over the water, it is less then 1 km walk from the airport to the sea.

 

Having it over the water does have major benefits as not only is it safer, it eliminates sight-lines as water is an open area, they can use a much larger area for demonstrations, and the best reason is the coolest thing I have ever seen was the Snowbirds making an introduction by flying into the airshow low and fast over the water from very far back so that they appeared on the horizon as they approached, then turned their lights on as they entered, it was the most amazing entry I have ever seen, things like that can only be done over the water. 

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Both the Chicago Air and Water show and the Gary, Indiana Air Show are held over Lake Michigan. Static displays for both shows are at KGYY with no admission charge.

 

I usually hang out at the airport during both shows, because watching the takeoffs and landings is more entertaining to me at least. :Applause:

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There are issues related to seaside airshows as well.

 

As has already been mentioned, it's impractical to charge for admission, therefore all the costs of the airshow must be recouped via sponsors.

 

Flying aerobatics over water where it is more difficult to judge one's altitude, especially on a hazy day where the horizon is ill defined can also be dangerous. This was cited as one of the major factors in the loss of an L-29 at a seaside airshow local to me some years ago.

 

You lose the ability for static displays, which can also be an attraction for runway based airshows.

 

What are you going to do about people who decide to park their boats right underneath the air display? I've seen this done when my own ship was used as part of the backdrop for the Bournemouth Air Show in 2010 (I got a much better view of the flying than the people on the beach did, believe me  :wink: ). There were all sorts of pleasure craft dotted all around the water underneath the display area.

 

Finally, overwater airshows would mean the end of extremely popular airshows such as Biggin Hill, Duxford, Fairford, Farnborough and many others.

 

 

As I wrote earlier, Saturday's fatalities were the first ones to occur on the ground at a British airshow in sixty three years. That alone should stand testament to the safety of British airshows.

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As has already been mentioned, it's impractical to charge for admission, therefore all the costs of the airshow must be recouped via sponsors.

 

This isn't true, we already mentioned above. Water based airshows charge admission to the airport to see the aircraft and charge admission to a premium area along the waterfront to watch the airshow. The majority watch for free but people do pay to get close to the aircraft and comentary and experts at both the airport and premium display area.

 

This is no different then what currently happens in land as some people pay to enter the airport and watch the airshow but the majority will watch for free standing in the field next door or down the road. Majority of the YouTube videos of the Shoreham crash are coming from people that didn't pay and were watching just outside the airport.

 

The cost of the settlement of the 11 (or more) lives lost will be much greater then changing the way they put on this show which could have been over the water and two locations, one being the airport and another area to watch along the water. this already works in other airshows.

 

Brighton and Brighton Pier would be a fantastic place to watch an airshow, probably one of the best shorelines for this and would give Toronto, Chicago and San Francisco and good run for their money. 

 

 

 

Finally, overwater airshows would mean the end of extremely popular airshows such as Biggin Hill, Duxford, Fairford, Farnborough and many others.

 

I am not saying to get rid of it. Oshkosh is another great one too. Reality is land based airshows are more limiting in display areas whereas over the water has major benefits. Seeing as Shoreham is less then 1 km from the sea I was questioning why have it over the land when it works better over water anyways, and this airport is that close to the sea anyways.

 

 

What are you going to do about people who decide to park their boats right underneath the air display? I've seen this done when my own ship was used as part of the backdrop for the Bournemouth Air Show in 2010 (I got a much better view of the flying than the people on the beach did, believe me  ). There were all sorts of pleasure craft dotted all around the water underneath the display area.

 

In Toronto the Toronto Police Marine Unit close off the waterways for the three to four hours during the show

 

 

You lose the ability for static displays, which can also be an attraction for runway based airshows.

 

Not true as the airport is open to public and they charge for admission.....you are going in circles as this has already been mentioned. Some water airshows have been doing this for over 40 years now, profitable, popular and safer. And yes they have had accidents but the aircraft end up in the lake where no people or boats are allowed. I first went the the one in Toronto in 1976 and have been back many times.

 

I would argue that land based airshows there are more areas to watch for free as there is lots of free land for people to stand and watch in fields, roads or even their backyard. 

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For both the Chicago and Gary airshows, the CPD Waterpatrol, State Trooper Water Patrol and Coast Guard work together to close off the "airshow box" from all boat traffic.

 

In Chicago virtually the entire beach area along LSD (Lakeshore Drive) have excellent viewpoints. The Gary show takes place along the Marquette Beach area.

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I think some good points were made here, would love to see the end report.

 

The manoeuvre by the Hunter was nothing really special, a very basic loop practiced from the beginning of your Air Force career...they get you to fly at 200ft and pull into a loop, so when you come out of the loop you are exactly 200ft again. Looking at the footage, he was around 500 to 1000ft when he started, hard to tell, but when he is at the top of the loop, he is not straight, he slides to the side and the descent begins, I don't think he ever got to be as high as he wanted to be.

The Hunter is a large fighter, about as maneuvreable as a Corsair, and you could see he was in trouble.

 

Do we know the status of the pilot?

 

A real pity all around, but going the old knee jerk "should have done this" or "should have flown over there" are not going anywhere, this show has been held for years, and an accident by an aircraft coming out of a low loop is unfortunately not that rare.

 

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There are already many "free" air shows around the coastal resorts of Britain throughout the summer, with the majority of the flying activities taking place over the water.

 

The Shoreham airshow is something different.  It is organised by the Royal Air Forces Association, a charity supporting past and present Royal Air Force personnel, as a fund-raising event.  It is not a "commercial" show, the emphasis is on the RAFA charity and the work it does.  To just move the show out over the water, thereby making it a free event, would negate the reason for its existence in the first place. 

 

I was at the show on Saturday and witnessed the sad and horrific events of that day.

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All the best airshows in the world take place inland. Saying move it off shore doesn't fix anything.

There are still plenty of land based airshows so whatever recommendations and regulation changes that are made have to be relevant to all airshows, not one in particular.

This was a horrible accident that took place during a routine aerobatics manoeuvre. Before saying it should have been done like this, wait and see what the outcome of the caa investigation is.

To those saying do it over water, what is your answer to the gnat crash that took place at carfest last month? If over water is your only answer then you are saying ban all land based airshows.

 

Chris

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There are already many "free" air shows around the coastal resorts of Britain throughout the summer, with the majority of the flying activities taking place over the water.

 

The Shoreham airshow is something different. It is organised by the Royal Air Forces Association, a charity supporting past and present Royal Air Force personnel, as a fund-raising event. It is not a "commercial" show, the emphasis is on the RAFA charity and the work it does. To just move the show out over the water, thereby making it a free event, would negate the reason for its existence in the first place.

 

I was at the show on Saturday and witnessed the sad and horrific events of that day.

Again the point is missed somehow, by moving it over water doesn't necessarily make it free, just like other air shows over water are not free, this has already been said so why are you saying it is free when over water when other water airshows are successful at doing this and making money?

 

Just as many people watch the Shoreham airshow for free by standing just outside the airport perimeter. You charge entry to Shoreham to see the static display and have a disegnated viewing area on the shoreline....just like other water airshows....WOW this is unbelievable that people keep saying FREE

 

I've been to both water and land airshows and both have their benefits, and both have ways of making money, and both have free spectators just outside of the pay areas, makes no difference if it is over the water or over the airport, their will always be people willing to pay extra for extra and others watching for free.

 

I prefer to pay because I want to see the aircraft up close, talk to the pilots, get a program, have the dialogue over the loudspeakers, I've done this at both Water and Land based airshows and enjoy them both.

 

 

All the best airshows in the world take place inland. Saying move it off shore doesn't fix anything.

 

The difference being is where over land you hold it. Some are held in more remote areas. I am not from Brighton but I would think it is a rather built up area and popular summer destination on the shore so maybe (or maybe not) a good idea to shift it offshore? 

 

This is for the organizers to decide this and not me, I am just someone looking at Google Earth and thinking common sense to shift it over water perhaps

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Again, moving air shows over water is not an answer. There are more air shows in the world than ones located near the seaside. Whatever regulation changes or recommendations that are made need to be applicable to ALL air shows.

It is entirely possible that no changes will be made as the inquest might find that the chances of this happening again are slight or for whatever reason the current regulations are enough.

 

Chris

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Again, moving air shows over water is not an answer.

 

Whatever....I am booked to go to one over water in 2 weeks which is one of the best ones in the world...

 

Also I still don't understand your argument about aerobatics over water. They do it all the time. They are not doing aerobatics in the middle of the ocean, they are doing them just off the shoreline. The airshow I am about to go to the pilot would have 60% to 70% of the horizon being land and the rest water, this is the nature of the horseshoe bay they are performing in just offshore but the horizon is still majority land. 

 

The two airshows I go to in New Zealand are one held over Wellington Harbour which is surrounded by mountains and you can't see a horizon ever due to mountains, the other one is in Wairapa which is also a mountain valley so no horizon there either. Stunts performed very well in both locations even though the pilot doesn't have a horizon to reference, only mountains. 

 

Anyhow. my point was that is doesn't matter over land or water or in the mountains even, airshows are very successful in all these location, I prefer the ones over water because you get a better view point. I also like ones in the desert because it is also a more open area and a fantastic view of everything. Over populated areas are obviously going to be more and more rare as population densities in places keep growing and many smaller airports close due to urban growth, this is a reality everywhere in the world. 

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For both the Chicago and Gary airshows, the CPD Waterpatrol, State Trooper Water Patrol and Coast Guard work together to close off the "airshow box" from all boat traffic.

 

I am not sure that there is power in the UK to extrude shipping from the sea for the purpose of an airshow.

There are maritime Temporary Exclusion Zones (TEZ) but only if a casualty is “wrecked, damaged or in distress.”  Temporary Danger Areas (TDA) can be set up to prevent aircraft flights around a TEZ.

 

Also for example, the Royal Navy's notice about its Tipner firing range states;

 

"Whilst firings are taking place all craft are, as far as is practicable, to keep clear of the danger area outlined in paragraph 1 above; alternatively those navigating the Portchester Channel are to pass through the area as quickly as possible."
 

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I am not sure that there is power in the UK to extrude shipping from the sea for the purpose of an airshow.

 

There are maritime Temporary Exclusion Zones (TEZ) but only if a casualty is “wrecked, damaged or in distress.” Temporary Danger Areas (TDA) can be set up to prevent aircraft flights around a TEZ.

 

Also for example, the Royal Navy's notice about its Tipner firing range states;

 

"Whilst firings are taking place all craft are, as far as is practicable, to keep clear of the danger area outlined in paragraph 1 above; alternatively those navigating the Portchester Channel are to pass through the area as quickly as possible."

 

Whether there is the power or not Gerry, in practice this has been successfully done off Southend seafront for years.

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Whether there is the power or not Gerry, in practice this has been successfully done off Southend seafront for years.

 

Details please.

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