29/01/2014 Look North (East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire)


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Good evening. Pointless and avoidable. The words Flight


Lieutenant Sean Cunningham's parents have used to describe his death.


Today saw the end of a three`week inquest into how the Red Arrow's


pilot died when his ejection seat went off at RAF Scampton in 2011.


Today the coroner said Sean Cunningham's death was preventable,


criticising the company which made the ejection seat and the Ministry


of Defence. Caroline Bilton has this report.


It was a job he loved but it ultimately cost him his life. Flight


Lieutenant Sean Cunningham died after his ejection seat went off


during routine checks on the ground at RAF Scampton in 2011. At the


inquest into his death, it was revealed the accident could have


been prevented. His family have been coming here every day for three


weeks to get the answers they've been searching for for two years.


That wait clearly had taken its toll when it came to giving their


reaction today. Sean was blameless and his tragic


death, excuse me. His tragic death was preventable. We


still find it difficult to accept so many people could have missed what


should have been obvious to those having a duty to ensure the safety


of the seat. The inquest heard of concerns over


pressured timetables, a dilution of experience within the engineers and


severe staff shortages. Problems with the ejection seat


where the safety pin could be inserted into the handle without it


being safe were known but not communicated.


The handle had been left in an unsafe position for four days before


the accident and was seen on 19 different occasions but it went


unnoticed. Sean's parachute did not deploy


because a crucial nut and bolt had been over tightened.


Had his parachute worked, he would still be alive.


The over tightening of that nut and bolt and its potential to put life


at risk was known 20 years ago by the ejection seat manufacturers,


Martin Baker. Other foreign forces were informed but not the RAF.


In relation to the 19 missed opportunities to notice the seat


firing handle was unsafe the coroner, Stuart Fisher, said the RAF


did as an organisation have a level of appreciation some years prior to


2011 of this aspect of the seat's design. They failed to take


sufficient steps to bring that to the attention of the air or ground


crew. The RAF's failure in this regard meant that the lives of


numerous personnel were put at risk. We have made and will continue to


make every effort to make sure such a tragic accident could never happen


again. With regard to this nut and bolt and


Martin Baker's failure to notify the MoD of potential risks of over


tightening, Stuart Fisher said there was a very serious failure of


communication in my view by Martin Baker. It seems to me there is no


logic to warn and inform some but not others.


At RAF Scampton today the Red Arrows' training session was given


in Sean's honour, his family watching from the ground. Business


has resumed here, Sean's family hope lessons learned from their son's


death will mean these men and women are safer in the future.


Caroline is at RAF Scampton now. Have improvements been made since


Sean Cunningham's death? The coroner said at the start of


this inquest no stone would be left unturned and I have to say all


parties have been scrutinised in this case. Martin Baker didn't


respond in a statement today to the coroner 's criticism of the failure


to communicate and the coroner said he will writing to the company about


this issue. They have however redesigned that nut and bolt and the


firing handle and I'm told they will be fitted and operational by the end


of the year. The coroner is also going to write to the RAF and says


he is not satisfied over the safety of that seat firing handle and the


HSE are still investigating this case. There could still be a


prosecution. Almost ?15 million of government


money has been secured for a new energy park in North Lincolnshire.


The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership was one of 12 areas to


get the money. Last month ministers gave Able UK permission for a giant


business park for energy companies on the south bank of the Humber. It


will employ 4,000 people. 15 million is going to help


kick`start with 350 construction jobs, looking at the energy supply,


creating a quarter of a million square metres of commercial space


there, helping with infrastructure, roads, really getting the project


going. Health experts from East Yorkshire


say they would welcome a ban on smoking in cars where children are


present. The House of Lords tonight voted in favour of a ban despite


claims from some peers that the law would be unenforceable. Anti`smoking


campaigners say many drivers are unaware of the risks.


I think most people know about the dangers of passive smoking. A lot of


people do not tend to smoke in the house much anymore. We seem to have


got that message through. It is even more concentrated in the car because


of it being a small space. It's been announced that the Queen's


baton event will come to Hull ahead of this summer's Commonwealth Games


in Glasgow. The Olympic Torch relay was a huge success travelling


through East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in 2012 and it's hoped


the Queen's baton event will be able to recreate some of that magic.


There will be various events which are celebrating sport. We're really


trying to get people to come to those events, come together, young


people, families and celebrate the fact that sport is an important part


of our country still. Time now for the weather with Paul


Hudson. Hello, again, the dreary weather continues tomorrow, another


cloudy day with patchy outbreaks of rain to come. At the moment there is


a lot of cloud, a few spots of drizzle. There will be a few


drifting in from the North Sea. Just a chance of a little bit of sleet


perhaps over the Wolds. A risk of icy patches, mainly over the routes


across the top of the Wolds. Tomorrow, a cloudy day with some


patchy outbreaks of rain. A bit of wintriness over the tops of the


Wolds but it won't amount to anything at all. We might even get


longer outbreaks of rain developing through the course of the day.


Temperatures coming in at four or five Celsius. Friday, a dry start


and heavy rain and strong winds by the end of the day. Just a reminder


Newsnight is starting now on BBC Two with Jeremy Paxman looking into a


row about a cartoon that's angered Christians and Muslims. . From all


of us here, have a good night. Hello. The next dose of wet and


windy weather is due to arrive on Friday from the Atlantic. Today we


have had an easterly wind bringing the chill as the threat of icy


patches comes to the north where the cloud breaks. More cloud further


south. Maybe some sleet and snow in parts of East Wales as we engage the


cold air. Temperatures in the south-east are not changing much


because the rain keeps going. It will be colder further north,


though. Icy patches are possible. More wintry showers in the


north-east. Quite a few flood warnings in Tayside. Write to the


west of the


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