RAF Scampton

Ejector seat manufacturer to go on trial after death of Red Arrows pilot

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An ejector seat manufacturer is to face a jury trial after denying breaching health and safety regulations following the death of Red Arrows pilot Sean Cunningham.

Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd this morning entered a not guilty plea at Lincoln Crown Court to a charge that on or before November 8, 2011 it failed 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 under the 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act.

Judge John Pini QC adjourned the hearing for a trial which is due to commence at Lincoln Crown Court on January 22, 2018.

The trial is scheduled to last between four and five weeks.

Members of Flight Lieutenant Cunningham’s family sat in court during the 20 minute hearing.

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

The parachute on the 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.