Thursday 27 October 2016

'No chance of airshow disaster here', says expert after UK crash

Regulations for displays here may change in wake of Shoreham crash, writes Alan O'Keeffe

Devastation left after a Hawker
Hunter jet crashed on to motorway at Shoreham
Devastation left after a Hawker Hunter jet crashed on to motorway at Shoreham

Air display safety regulations are stricter in Ireland than in the UK, according to a leading air show organiser.

Irish air shows will, however, change safety rules if needed following the Shoreham disaster in Britain, said Se Pardy, director of the annual Bray Air Spectacular, the country's biggest annual aviation event.

There is no possibility of an aircraft crashing into people in Bray because "100pc" of the manoeuvres take place over the sea, Mr Pardy said.

The annual event in Bray has been a big success, with more than 90,000 attending this summer.

"All arrivals of aircraft, all displays, and all departures of aircraft in Bray take place over the sea, not over the crowds," he said.


The show works closely on safety with Dublin Airport's air traffic control, the Irish Aviation Authority, Wicklow County Council and Bray Summerfest, he said.

Andrew Hill, the pilot of the jet that crashed at the English event on Saturday, killing 11 people, had taken part in air shows in Bray, Shannon and Foynes in recent weeks flying the same Hawker Hunter jet.

He is in critical condition in a medically induced coma in hospital.

"Andy Hill flew in the air displays in Bray four or five times. I met him this year and he is a gentleman," said Mr Pardy.

"He is a professional aviator who works as a pilot during the week and at weekends he flies for the joy of it. I just hope Andy recovers," he added.

The UK Air Accident Investigations Branch are expected to issue an interim report on the Shoreham horror crash in the next few days.

"I imagine any change in the UK rules will be taken on board here. Safety rules are very strict in Ireland already. Pilots performing in Ireland usually come from the UK, so they will be following any new rules in future when here too," said Mr Pardy.

David Bruton, chief organiser of the Midlands Air Show, said any British recommendations arising from the investigation will be studied here.


The Irish Aviation Authority's rules are "a bit more stringent" as every single pilot, aircraft and display must be the subject of separate applications to the authority, even one-off displays at weddings or festivals, said Mr Bruton.

No further victims were found following the lifting of the jet at the Shoreham motorway crash site, police said.

However, police have not ruled out the possibility of further victims being found where the fireball incinerated commuter traffic on the motorway.

More than 200 people have reported concerns about missing persons since the disaster.

The Irish Aviation Authority said it was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy. A spokesman said the Authority is constantly reviewing safety regulations.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority has banned "vintage jets" built before the mid-1960s from carrying out high energy acrobatics.

Over the past decade there have been several accidents at air shows in the UK.

However, since the tragic plane crash at Farnborough Air Show back in 1952, in which 30 spectators were killed, no members of the public had lost their lives.

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