Martin Baker is to be prosecuted by UK’s Health and Safety Executive over the death of Red Arrows pilot.
Flt Lt Sean Cunningham was killed after being accidentally ejected from his Hawk T1.
Last year a coroner described an ejection seat that threw the pilot to his death as “entirely useless”. The Type 10B1 Mk1 ejection seat fitted to his Hawk was accidentally activated while the aircraft was still on the ground, the main parachute system then failed to deploy properly and Cunnigham remained attached to the seat.
The company subsequently promised that lessons have been learned from a fatal accident that claimed the life of a UK Royal Air Force Red Arrows display team pilot after a coroner was sharply critical of the company.
Martin Baker is a British manufacturer of ejection seats and safety-related equipment for aviation. The company’s origins were originally as an aircraft manufacturer before becoming a pioneer in the field of ejection seats.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has informed an ejection seat manufacturer that it will be prosecuted following the death of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham on 8th November 2011.
HSE’s Inspector David Butter said on their website:
“HSE has today informed Martin Baker Aircraft Ltd that it will be prosecuted for an alleged breach of health and safety law. 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.”
HSE was handed primacy of the investigation following an MoD Service Inquiry, investigations by the civilian and military police, and technical investigations involving the Military Aviation Authority and the Military Air Accident Investigation Branch.
Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd will appear at Lincoln Magistrates Court, date to be confirmed, to face a Section 3 Charge under the Health and Safety of Work Act.
According to the HSE, the alleged breach is Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which states:
“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.”
The company supplies ejection seats for 93 air forces worldwide, their seats have been fitted into over 200 fixed-wing and rotary types with the most recent being the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II programme.
Martin Baker claimed in 2014 that since the first live ejection test in 1946, a total of 7,450 lives have been saved by the company’s ejection seats.