Death of Red Arrow Flt Lt Jon Egging 'was pure matter of fate' rules coroner
Nothing could have prevented the death of a Red Arrows pilot who crashed after he almost lost consciousness, a coroner ruled.
Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, of Morcott, Rutland, was killed when his Hawk T1 aircraft came down after performing at an air show in Bournemouth last year.
Yesterday, following a two-day inquest in Bournemouth, coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a verdict of accidental death.
He said the likely cause of the crash was Flt Lt Egging suffering "ALOC" – almost loss of consciousness – due to being impaired by a maximum G-force of 6.3.
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It is believed the 33-year-old pilot started to regain consciousness in the three seconds before impact – when G-force dropped to about 3.5G – but it was too late for him to react.
Dorset coroner Mr Payne said: "What we have heard was that this was the highest and longest sustained G during that day. He would have pulled 6.3G.
"It comes down to the theory that the cause was G induced-impairment, or ALOC.
"It appeared this was a rapid onset of G."
The coroner said it can be the case that pilots "go through their career and never have any problems like this".
"The other eight pilots completed the same manoeuvre and yet nothing happened to them," he said.
"Nothing could have assisted in preventing what happened.
"All in all, he died as a result of an accident and it is an accidental death that I must record.
"This was a pure matter of fate on this occasion."
As the verdict was read out, Flt Lt Egging's wife, Dr Emma Egging, and his mother, Dawn, wiped away tears.
Speaking after the inquest, Dr Egging said: "Today marks the end of a hard and emotional 16 months for me and Jon's family. Jon's death, due to the effects of G-Force induced impairment, was a tragic accident.
"I am confident a full inquiry has taken place by the RAF and that actions will be taken to help prevent such an accident from happening again."
The inquest heard evidence from Flt Lt Chris Lyndon-Smith, known as Red 2, who was flying just behind Flt Lt Egging – Red 4 – when the accident unfolded on August 20 last year.
Flt Lt Lyndon-Smith said on Thursday during the inquest that all the pilots were supposed to gain height in a peeling off manoeuvre.
"It became apparent to me that 179 [Jon] was going down pretty quickly," he said. "I shouted on the radio 'Four, check height'.
"I then got back on the radio and said the same thing."
He said he did not think he saw any "change or reaction".
"That was the frustrating thing," he said. "I was trying to tell Jon to check his height and I wasn't seeing a response from his aircraft."
Flt Lt Egging died instantly on impact. His injuries were so serious they would have been impossible to survive, the inquest heard.
Also giving evidence on Thursday, Wing Commander Mark Rodden, who led a Military Aviation Authority investigation into the crash, said inadequate awareness of G-force could have led to the accident.