Aircraft firm to face charges five years after death of Red Arrows pilot

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An ejector seat manufacturer’s is being prosecuted five years after the death of a Red Arrows pilot.

Flt Lt Sean Cunningham fell more than 200 feet when his ejection seat accidentally went off as he was preparing for take-off and he died on November 8, 2011.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now informed an ejection seat manufacturer that it will be prosecuted.

HSE’s Inspector David Butter said: “HSE has informed Martin Baker Aircraft Ltd that it will be prosecuted for an alleged breach of health and safety law. The charges relate to the death of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham in November 2011 at RAF Scampton.

“We have conducted a thorough investigation and consider there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”

HSE was handed primacy of the investigation following a MOD Service Inquiry, investigations by the civilian and military police, and technical investigations involving the Military Aviation Authority and the Military Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Flt Lt Cunningham was a Red Arrows pilot. He died after his ejector seat initiated during the pre-flight checks of his Hawk XX177 jet.

Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, Lower Road, Higher Denham, bear Uxbridge will appear at Lincoln Magistrates Court to face a Section 3 Charge under the Health and Safety of Work Act.

In 2014 Central Lincolnshire Coroner Stuart Fisher ruled the seat’s firing handle had been accidentally moved into an unsafe position and a safety pin was incorrectly inserted.