Sussex

Shoreham air crash trial: Pilot not ejecting 'saved lives'

Jet crash lands on the A27 Image copyright CPS
Image caption Andrew Hill was thrown from the cockpit of the Hawker Hunter after it crashed

More people may have died in the Shoreham Airshow disaster if pilot Andrew Hill had ejected from his ex-military jet, a court has heard.

Expert witness Jonathan Whaley told the Old Bailey it would have been safer for Mr Hill to use the plane's ejector seat, but may have led to a "more serious loss of life".

The Hawker Hunter crashed on the A27 killing 11 men after failing to complete an aerobatic manoeuvre.

Mr Hill, 54, denies manslaughter.

Mr Whaley, an ex-Royal Navy pilot who has flown more than 300 displays in the Hawker Hunter, was asked if it would have been "safer for Andy Hill to eject the aircraft rather than to pull through" once he reached "a point when he had no hope".

He responded: "Yes, but that would show no concern for the safety of others."

Karim Khalil QC, defending, asked if Mr Whaley and other experts had agreed that "if he has ejected there may have been more serious loss of life".

"Yes, we agreed that," Mr Whaley responded.

Image copyright Leon Neal/Getty Images
Image caption Andrew Hill denies 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence

Prosecutors allege Mr Hill should have realised he had not attained sufficient altitude to safely complete the loop and then performed an escape manoeuvre.

Jurors were told Mr Hill committed the "cardinal sin" of committing to the loop despite being "thousands of feet" too low.

He was thrown from the jet and "miraculously escaped" when the aircraft crashed on 22 August 2015, the court heard.

Mr Khalil argued that Mr Hill was suffering from "cognitive impairment" and was "unable to properly and fully control the aircraft".

Mr Hill, of Sandon in Hertfordshire, denies 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.

The trial continues.

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