Ejector seat firm in court over death of Red Arrows pilot

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An ejection seat manufacturer this afternoon appeared before Lincoln Magistrates’ Court charged with breach of health and safety regulations following the death of Red Arrows pilot Sean Cunningham.

Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd is accused of breaching section 3 (1) of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act on or before November 8 2011.

The charge accuses the company of failing to conduct its undertaking in relation to the design, manufacture, supply and support of the Mark 10b ejection seat in a way that did not expose non-employees to risk.

The prosecution has been brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

At this afternoon’s hearing Christopher Morrison, representing the company, gave no indication of plea.

Members of Flt Lt Cunningham’s family sat in the public gallery during the 10 minute hearing in which magistrates committed the case to Lincoln Crown Court.

The company is scheduled to appear at the Crown Court on Friday February 17 for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Flt Lt Cunningham, 35, died in November 2011 after he was thrown 300 feet into the air when his ejection seat activated while he was carrying out pre-flight checks on his Hawk jet at the display team’s base at RAF Scampton near Lincoln.

The parachute on the ejection seat did not deploy and he plummeted back down to earth still strapped into the seat.

He suffered multiple injuries and was airlifted to hospital but was pronounced dead within an hour.

Flt Lt Cunningham, who was from Coventry, had just completed his first season with the Arrows and held the position of Red 5 in the formation team at the time of his death.

He was the second member of the team to die tragically within three months following the loss of Flt Lt Jon Egging whose Hawk jet crashed during a display at an airshow in Dorset.

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