Pioneering female pilot will share ejector seat problems at inquest
The first female Red Arrow will recount her lucky escape with an ejector seat at the inquest into the death of pilot Sean Cunningham.
Flight Lieutenant Cunningham, 35, was killed after his ejector seat fired while his Hawk T1 plane was grounded at RAF Scampton on November 8, 2011.
He was shot 200 feet into the air and his parachute failed to deploy.
Kirsty Stewart, who left the Reds in 2012 after two seasons, will be called as a witness at the three-week inquest which is set to begin on January 9.
Get hi lites or low lites and a cut & blowdry with Hannah or Daniel between 10th and 14th December for only £40.00 please contact the salon for more details, just let us know its with this voucher.
Terms: terms and conditions apply and limited spaces
Contact: 01522 305178
Valid until: Saturday, December 14 2013
A pre-inquest hearing at Lincoln Cathedral Centre heard how she was involved in a worrying incident during training at RAF Valley in Wales.
Coroner Stuart Fisher told the pre-inquest at Lincoln Cathedral Centre: "She was sat in the back seat of a Hawk jet and inadvertently one of her straps went through the ejector handle at risk of it going off."
The full inquest will consider:
Whether the ejector handle in Mr Cunningham's aircraft snagged and activated. Did the handle's design mean this could happen?
Was the handle in the correct "safe" position when the ejector seat was made ready prior to take-off?
Was a shackle nut over-tightened so that the main parachute was unable to deploy? Did seat manufacturer Martin Baker know this was a problem and did they effectively notify the MoD of it?
What were the effects of the display schedule on the ability to service the aircraft and the demands it had on the pilots?
An ejector seat has a large locking pin that is removed before take-off in order for the seat to work but it is never pulled before the pilot is strapped in.
In an emergency, the operating handle can then be manually pulled up by the pilot from the safe position through two further settings to activate the seat.
Counsel for the family Tom Kark, QC, told the pre-inquest hearing: "On behalf of the family, they would like the widest explanation possible of why their son and brother died."
Coroner Mr Fisher said: "This is going to be a very thorough inquiry.
"I will leave no stone unturned."
Lincolnshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have previously announced no criminal charges should be brought over Mr Cunningham's death.
The Health and Safety Executive has taken on the investigation.
Lawyer Bernard Thorogood, for the HSE, told the pre-inquest hearing: "On the basis of the information revealed to date, the HSE sees no realistic prospect of a service individual being prosecuted."
He added: "It's normal for the HSE to keep investigations open until after the inquest for the reason that inquests can sometimes throw up different and new lines of investigation."