Shoreham Airshow crash pilot says plane manoeuvre 'made no sense'

11 men died in the 2015 tragedy
11 men died in the 2015 tragedy

Shoreham airshow crash pilot Andy Hill has said the action taken by the plane before the crash made 'no sense'.

Hill told the court this morning that he had no recollection of what happened the day in August 2015 when the Hawker Hunter jet he was flying tragically crashed onto the A27, leading to the deaths of 11 people.

Andy Hill is on trial at the Old Bailey. Photo: Getty Images

Andy Hill is on trial at the Old Bailey. Photo: Getty Images

The 54-year-old, of Standon Road, Buntingford, denies 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.

At the trial this afternoon, defence barrister Karim Khalil QC took Hill through cockpit footage from the flight that day, ahead of the crash.

The footage was paused soon after the moment the plane reached the apex, as Hill has not seen any video of the incident beyond this point, the court heard.

Mr Khalil said Hill - while having no recollection of the incident - had studied the footage and had used his computer skills to try to make sense of what happened.

Going through the footage frame by frame, Hill identified 21 minutes and 45 seconds past 12am as 'point x' - where things began to go wrong.

"Up until point X, everything looked good. After point X, I just don't understand," he said.

Hill said he did 'not accept' that the aircraft was performing a loop - but was unable to say what the manoeuvre was.

"It does not fit into a classic manoeuvre out of a textbook. I can describe what the aircraft did but I can't put it in a box and say it was this," he said.

After completing a long turn, the speed of the plane reduced as it entered the manoeuvre, the court heard.

Hill said this made 'the absolute opposite of sense' and said: "It's the last thing you would do."

Asked by Mr Khalil if he had tried to understand what had happened, Hill said: "In pilot terms it's not even worth analysing.

"There isn't an analysis of it - it's completely the wrong thing to do for more than one reason."

At the apex of the manoeuvre, Hill said there were 'a number of escape manoeuvres' he could have been starting.

'The dominant thought of my life'

According to a witness statement read out by Mr Khalil, a paramedic who attended to Hill after the crash recalled that Hill said he had had 'some pain in his chest' and had 'blacked out in the air'.

Asked by Mr Khalil whether he would have set off for the airshow display or continued flying the plane if he had been feeling unwell, Hill said 'no'.

Mr Khalil read out a statement given by Hill to police in November 2017.

In the statement, Hill said he had to face the fact that eleven people had died in the incident 'every day I wake up'.

"These people lost their lives as a direct result of an accident I was involved in," Hill said in the statement.

Asked whether he still was still facing this fact, Hill said: "It's the dominant thought of my life."

Hill said he and the families of the victims were at 'the top of the list' of those wanting to understand what happened that day.

'Limited' time in the Hunter

After Mr Khalil finished asking questions, the floor was given over to prosecutor Tom Kark QC to question Hill.

Mr Kark said Hill had 43 hours of experience in a Hunter and that he began his conversion to flying this plane in May 2011.

Previously there was a gap in his experience of flying fast jets from 1994, when he left the RAF, to 2003, when he came back to flying fast planes like the provost.

Mr Kark said Hill's time in the Hunter was 'pretty limited' compared to his time flying other jets, a statement Hill agreed with.

Mr Kark will continue his questioning tomorrow.

What has the trial previously heard?

Throughout the trial so far the prosecution have alleged that Hill was negligent and the disaster was caused by pilot error.
Mr Kark accused Hill of being 'cavalier' when it came to safety and guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

However defence barrister Mr Khalil argued that Hill suffered a cognitive impairment at some point during the flight and not in control of what he was doing.
Hill told the trial yesterday that he was not a 'cavalier' pilot when it came to safety, and said: "It was the primary aim of the air display to avoid risk."

Last Friday, the jury head from a pilot who said he would have abandoned the manouevre which ultimately killed 11 people.
Another man - an elite air display pilot - told the jury on Monday that he himself had made an error while trying to recreate Hill's failed loop manoeuvre.

The trial continues.