LONDON – Ejection seat maker Martin Baker is to be prosecuted over the death of a Red Arrows display team pilot in 2011.
The UK government's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Sept. 26 it intends to prosecute the company for allegedly breaking health and safety laws after the ejection seat of a Hawk jet trainer inadvertently initiated while the pilot was doing pre-flight checks while stationary at the display teams base at Scampton, Lincolnshire.
The pilot, Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, died after the MK10 ejector seat parachute failed to deploy.
"We have conducted a thorough investigation and consider there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution," the HSE said in a statement.
The HSE investigated the accident following a Ministry of Defence inquiry.
Martin Baker couldn't be reached for a statement.
The prosecution is the second major setback to the company following safety issues with the US-16E ejection seat it is supplying for the entire F-35 program.
Low speed ejection testing in 2015 revealed the seat could increase the risk of neck injury for lightweight pilots. A solution is being tested but is not expected to be ready for implementation until next year.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.