Final report into Shoreham Airshow disaster to be published

Updated: 

Air accident investigators are to publish their final report into the Shoreham Airshow disaster on Friday.

Eleven people were killed when a vintage Hawker Hunter jet failed to pull out of a loop-the-loop stunt over West Sussex on August 22 2015.

It crashed in a fireball on the busy A27, hitting vehicles and pedestrians.

The 18-month probe by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) set out to determine the cause of the crash and make safety recommendations to prevent similar incidents.

The AAIB said it does not "apportion blame or liability".

The 1955 Hawker Hunter was piloted by Andrew Hill, 52, from Sandon, Hertfordshire. He survived the impact and is being investigated by Sussex Police for possible manslaughter.

Families of the deceased were invited to attend a private face-to-face briefing on the AAIB's final report on Thursday.

Leslye Polito, from Worthing, whose 23-year-old son Daniele was among the victims, said: "Like with all the other families, we want answers.

"I'm interested to know what the conclusions are in the report and to see if there is any new information.

"That's all I'm hoping for right now, and there's nothing else I can say."

Worthing United FC have a memorial wall featuring pictures of players Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, who died in the crash as they travelled in a car to play a home match.

Mark Sanderson, the club's secretary and vice chairman, described them as "my boys".

He said: "They were firm favourites with the squad - Matt being a goalkeeper and Jacob an outfield player.

"They were signed up looking forward to the new season at the time when the crash happened.

"For the rest of the season, it seemed to gel everyone, and there was a pretty strong bond.

"They were, as I have described them before, my boys."

The Rev Terry Stratford, associate priest of St Mary de Haura Church in Shoreham, where some of the victims' families gathered before the first anniversary of the disaster, said the AAIB report will not provide final closure.

He said: "The families and the community are asking the age-old question of why and how did it happen.

"Once the report is out, people will be able to take it on board. But for the families, they are still facing up to the tragic deaths of their loved ones in terrible circumstances.

"Everybody - the families and the community - just want to know what happened. Once we know, adjustments can be made to life and people can move forward. But at the moment, it's the great unknown.

"This report will be a further stage reached for the families, but not the culmination."

The Shoreham Airshow will not be staged this summer, for the second year running, out of respect for the families of the victims.

Speaking on behalf of the families he is representing, James Healy-Pratt, head of aviation and travel at Stewarts Law, said: "This AAIB final report is a critical step on the journey to the truth for the families left bereaved by the Shoreham air crash.

"They have waited patiently over the past 20 months, as they want to see a comprehensive review of how this air show disaster happened, what went wrong, and how future innocent lives should be saved through important new safeguards.

"The families understand there will be unanswered questions after the AAIB report, that are better answered through the coroner's investigation and inquest, and potentially the criminal investigation by Sussex Police.

"Their journey to the truth is long, but they are determined that no stone should be left unturned, so that lessons can be learned and appropriate actions taken."