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Coroner critical over Red Arrows pilot's death

A CORONER has slammed safety pins in an ejector seat as "useless" as he criticised a manufacturer for failing to warn the RAF of defects which led to the death of a Red Arrows pilot.

Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham, 35, died after he was accidentally ejected 220ft into the air from his Hawk T1 aircraft while on the ground at RAF Scampton on November 8 2011.

The South African-born pilot remained attached to his seat and fell unrestrained by parachute to the ground. He suffered non-survivable injuries, in particular to his brain and cardiovascular system, due to the high velocity impact with the ground, an inquest heard.

Recording a narrative verdict into the death, Central Lincolnshire coroner Stuart Fisher criticised manufacturer Martin Baker for not telling the RAF of risks with the seat.

Lawyers acting for the family said it had secured an undisclosed settlement from the Ministry of Defence in December 2013 after a full admission of liability for the incident in July that year.

Flt Lt Cunningham's father Jim said: "We welcome the conclusions of the coroner, which confirm what we knew all along, which is that Sean was blameless and his tragic death was preventable. We therefore welcome the coroner's recommendations, which we hope and pray will ensure no family such as ours has to endure such a pointless and avoidable death."

Contextual targeting label: 
Transport Tragedy

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