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Thread: Martin Baker faces prosecution re Red Arrows ejection death.

  1. #1
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    Martin Baker faces prosecution re Red Arrows ejection death.

    And yes I know not strictly historic but thought it would interest many on here.


    https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/ejec...d-pilot-death/

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    Just wondering what would happen if the company decided the blame culture and losses would be too much and pulled out the market and dropped their support ,there would be alot of airframes grounded.

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    It should be born in mind that the prosecution is "in the public interest" and important cases are often brought to get rulings on issues arising.

    Do not forget that somebody tragically lost their life here and the family needs to know what happened and deserve compensation. The question is, compensation from whom? The insurance companies of the various parties involved will all be doing their best to deny liability and will look towards a court decision for resolution.

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    I can understand the prosecution of MB if they maintain the seats on a day to day basis and provide the backup needed. But, does the RAF take ownership of the seats while in their aircraft and maintain these seats themselves?

    The parachute failed to open but is this the seat manufacturers fault or the persons/company who last packed/maintained it?

    My understanding of health and safety in the workplace is good and the legislation that goes with it and I believe in aircraft this is different.

    Provisional and use of work equipment regulations covers anything mechanical in the workplace. The supplier must comply that their equipment is fit for purpose in the first place and the workplace must maintain it within the manufacturer’s specifications while in their ownership.

    Just wondered if it would be the same in this case?
    Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.

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    As far as I am aware - the family settled compensation with MOD a couple of years ago - unless they have changed their mind about the settlement !
    It was a very sad accident - the pilot had an ultra unlucky day.
    Seems a little late in the day for an HSE prosecution of MB,one would have thought it would have happened fairly quickly after the official report was published!will be interesting to see what has prompted this action !

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    Does this mean that all failed ejections are prosecutable?
    Presumably seats have a failure rate?

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    I think some of you are on the wrong track here, this is not a case of H&S gone mad nor blame culture.

    As far as I remember there were some pretty shocking failures, including some by MB, revealed at the inquest and there is the needless loss of a pilot's life to account for.

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    I don't know the detail, Pimpernel, but I'd imagine the prosecution would be brought under Section 3(1) of the 1974 Act which places duties on companies such as MB (or individuals) to conduct their business or undertaking in such a way that the health and safety of persons not in their employment is not affected. Ergo: there must be some evidence of failure on the part of MB that gave rise to this accident and thus breached Section 3. Equally, and I don't know, but I suspect the prosecution of Merlin Entertainment today for the Smiler ride accident was brought under exactly the same statutory provision. But its been a long long time since I was professionally involved in such things!
    Last edited by Tangmere1940; 27th September 2016 at 20:25.
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    Not worth speculating too much until we know any details of any prosecution,as I posted above - it seems to have taken an overlong time for HSE to decide to prosecute MB.
    The technical investigation after the accident was very thorough and the cause of death was very quickly established (although obviously the cause of ejection took longer to establish).

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    I think there will always be a degree of speculation as to why the sequence of events happened like it did that day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bazv View Post
    Not worth speculating too much until we know any details of any prosecution,as I posted above - it seems to have taken an overlong time for HSE to decide to prosecute MB.
    The technical investigation after the accident was very thorough and the cause of death was very quickly established (although obviously the cause of ejection took longer to establish).
    No, I wasn't speculating. Simply stating the fact that the only part of the HASAW Act 1974 that MB could be prosecuted under would be Section 3.

    Indeed, a little simple internet ferreting has since shown that this is indeed so.
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    One problem was over the drogue shackle and the possibility it could be over tightened which meant the main chute didn't deploy after the drogue chute, a shouldered bolt could possibly have prevented that, also over the design of the handle that allowed the seat pin to appear to be in but it wasn't locked.

    Good thread re this on pprune.

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    If that's the case it sounds more like maintenance error.
    If we sue every manufacturer not building foolproof items....
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

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    Simply stating the fact that the only part of the HASAW Act 1974 that MB could be prosecuted under would be Section 3.
    Indeed Andy... as stated in the link in Post#1 ; )

    Yes there is a good thread on PPrune as Tony T posted,I always viewed the Mark 10 seat as a 'fairly' safe seat to work around,I went on to Hawks after 5 years working on Canberras...the Hawk seat was a quantum leap in capability compared to the Mk 2 fitted to the old canberras.
    But any component which uses explosives and depends on everything working perfectly is occasionally going to be dangerous and one always had to guard against complacency.
    It will be interesting to see what (if any ) skeletons are in MB's cupboards,but considering how many lives MB seats have saved over the years - a prosecution seems very harsh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bazv View Post
    Indeed Andy... as stated in the link in Post#1 ; )

    Yes there is a good thread on PPrune as Tony T posted,I always viewed the Mark 10 seat as a 'fairly' safe seat to work around,I went on to Hawks after 5 years working on Canberras...the Hawk seat was a quantum leap in capability compared to the Mk 2 fitted to the old canberras.
    But any component which uses explosives and depends on everything working perfectly is occasionally going to be dangerous and one always had to guard against complacency.
    It will be interesting to see what (if any ) skeletons are in MB's cupboards,but considering how many lives MB seats have saved over the years - a prosecution seems very harsh.


    Totally agree, its a bit like the compensation culture that existed in the US over Aviation, in the end it drove the likes of Cessna to stop producing singles as it was crippling their business, it was only of late when the compensation was capped that the US manufacturers came back to the market, start charging and fining companies that make safety equipment, and they will simply move out of the business, in MB's case, they have saved thousands that wouldn't be here today, for accidental deaths you could probably count on your hands.

  16. #16
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    Prosecution.

    It is also possible to prosecute under section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It requires any designer, manufacturer, supplier etc to ensure the product is as safe as reasonably practicable when it is being set, used, cleaned or maintained. The customer should have adequate information about the tests applied and conditions necessary to ensure it will be safe when set, used et al. Any revisions of information should be supplied. This is a summary of section 6.1. The Act applies to aircraft. I suspect that the HSE will be looking at the risks of seat malfunction to any person who might be in the proximity of a seat that bangs unexpectedly, not just aircrew.

    I recognise that people have opinions and can air them but we will not know the facts until they are in the public domain. The Alton Towers case this week must have been an eye opener to some of us when the full story came out.

  17. #17
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    #16 update

    I have discovered the information laid by the prosecutor is under section 3. It is possible to include the detail listed in #16 in the case stated presented to the magistrates under a section 3 charge, and later if it is sent up to the Crown Court by the Magistrates, in the Crown Court Indictment. (All cases start in the Magistrates Courts in England and Wales). It has become practice of recent years to combine like facts under one charge to save court time. There is also an parallel thread developing on this topic on pprune.

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    Just in case anyone else reads this thread - the link that Paul1867 posted in post#1 had the details about the prosecution so nobody else needs to 'discover' that - please read threads and links before posting ; )

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    Keeping it sort on the historic side ,will this impact any current historic airframes currently flying?

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    Quote Originally Posted by trumper View Post
    Keeping it sort on the historic side ,will this impact any current historic airframes currently flying?
    The RAAF Museum's Ca-27 Avon Sabre has been grounded since March '15. Cartridges life expired, MB had notified of withdrawal of support a few months prior. Operated by Temora Aviation Museum on the RAAF Museum's behalf, the two museums and MB Australia recently trialled three models of current seats for retro fitment. A decision on whether to proceed is pending.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick F View Post
    The RAAF Museum's Ca-27 Avon Sabre has been grounded since March '15. Cartridges life expired, MB had notified of withdrawal of support a few months prior. Operated by Temora Aviation Museum on the RAAF Museum's behalf, the two museums and MB Australia recently trialled three models of current seats for retro fitment. A decision on whether to proceed is pending.
    And remember that the Temora Sabre already uses a retrofit seat: the original NAA seat (with mods) was standard equipment on RAAF Sabres and the current seat was a recent expedient to overcome similar issues with non-availability of an NAA seat cartridge. I dare say the abrupt ejection characteristics of the single-charge NAA seat catapult may also have had a bearing.

    Modern seats may be the way to go for many warbirds, but if one bears in mind the lack of 'zero-zero' capability on those early seats, plus their habit of crippling pilots, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

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    It may be that the HSE investigation only began after the inquest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bazv View Post
    As far as I am aware - the family settled compensation with MOD a couple of years ago -
    The MOD insurers will be looking to recover any payment they have made from the person/organisation that they feel are responsible. It is not clear to me what actual evidence has been available. Do the MAIB work on the same basis as the AAIB?

    HSE can possibly bring a case under "due diligence" if proper records have not been kept or a fit and proper record system is not in place.

  24. #24
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    3.1 of the HASAW.

    3 General duties of employers and self-employed to persons other than their employees.

    (1)It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.

    MB are a company that manufacture an ejector seat. If they were to maintain that seat then this regulation would be in my view the correct one to serve on them. But, if the RAF maintained the seat then they would be in breach of this regulation if they were not immune from prosecution.

    Crown Immunity from Criminal Liability
    Action in the criminal courts is taken 'on behalf of the Crown'. Statute law is approved by the Crown (Royal Assent).
    It would, it is said, be strange for the Crown to prosecute itself and this is the basis for the Crown being 'immune' from prosecution for criminal liability.
    Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.

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    So who actually maintains the seats ? RAF, BAE or others ?
    Doesn't it also follow that the pilot must share some of the responsibility for seeing that the seat was safe ?

    When contractor Mike Harland fell out of a Tornado in 2007, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that there was
    insufficient evidence to charge anyone with manslaughter due to gross negligence, and that it was an accident.
    Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

  26. #26
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    Two issues. One the handle appearing to be "locked" but not actually locked, and the failure of the chute due to "over" tightened shackle bolt.
    The coroner reported that there had been 19 opportunities by 7 RAF personnel including the pilot to check the handle was in safe position.

    The coroner's view was that none of the engineers who worked on the seat could be criticized.

    This is why I feel that the case will be about "due diligence" and recorded keeping which includes the dissemination of important information. MB knew about the shackle tightness problem some time ago but appear to have no paper chain to the RAF. The coroner reported that the RAF had not given adequate training to its engineers so this possibly implies that MB had informed the RAF of the problem with the handle but that the RAF had not passed that information on to the personnel coming into contact with the seat. All record keeping and due diligence.

    "Due diligence" and the recording thereof is all important when the sh$% hits the fan and explains the proliferation of the warning signs stuck on everything these days. Usually the first n pages of instruction manuals now contains instructions of what not to do with your new gadget. "Slippery when wet".

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    respectfully refer back to post #7

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    I see nothing in post #7 that would change anything in my last post which related purely to the announcement that the HSE is bringing a case and the conjecture about which mechanism within the HSE remit will be used. My post also quotes "facts" that have been reported attributable to the coroner. I make no comment on any "facts" other than to see how they could lead to a prosecution by the HSE.

    I am not discussing the rights and wrongs of the case purely the mechanisms being used, so far, to bring a prosecution as I am not aware of all the relevant facts. I am happy to let the due processes of law take its course and hopefully come to a conclusion.

    Whether the manner this is done meets with your approval would seem to be what is concerning you and I make no comment on that.

    Al Capone comes to mind.

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    The MOD report can be read here. It consists of several pdfs, and makes sober reading.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/public...awk-tmk1-xx177

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    Martin Baker pleads guilty

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42773834

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