Manufacturing firm prosecuted by HSE following pilot death

A manufacturing firm is to be prosecuted following the untimely death of a Red Arrows pilot in Lincolnshire.

Ejection seat manufacturer Martin Baker Aircraft Ltd will appear in court due to an alleged breach of health and safety law which resulted in the tragic death of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, 35, on 8 November 2011.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation following the incident, which took place at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. Flt Lt Cunningham died after his ejector seat initiated while pre-flight checks of his Hawk XX177 jet were being carried out while the plane was stationary on the ground. The pilot was said to have been ejected up to 300ft into the air and fell to the ground as the main chute of his parachute did not open.

As well as ensuring that the necessary insurance requirements are in place, businesses should also consider acquiring the assistance of professional risk management consultants in order to advise them about minimising the chances of incidents like this one taking place.

HSE took charge of the investigation into Flt Lt Cunningham's death after an MOD Service Inquiry was carried out, along with investigations by the civilian and military police. The Military Aviation Authority and the Military Air Accident Investigation Branch also made detailed technical investigations following the tragic event.

HSE’s Inspector David Butter said: "The charges relate to the death of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham in November 2011 at RAF Scampton. We have conducted a thorough investigation and consider there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”

Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd of Lower Road, Higher Denham, near Uxbridge, is due to appear at Lincoln Magistrates Court to face a Section 3 Charge under the Health and Safety of Work Act, on a date that has yet to be confirmed.