2011. This took a long time to get to court. Good example of two
independent faults leading to the tragedy.
I don't quite see why the seat manufacturers were to blame. The
over-tightened nut was down to the RAF ground crew apparently and I
would have thought the ejector seat handle would be part of the
It should either be impossible to over-tighten the shackle or there
should be a big fixed label prompting a valid test of tightness.
It should not be possible to place the locking pin when the release
handle is not in a safe position to be locked.
It *is* actually rocket engineering, which is why they should be a bit
careful. It is bad enough working all day sitting on a rocket powered
seat without its safety being totally reliant on no-one ever being
careless or forgetting something, with no obvious visual indication of
I do see your reasoning, but the ground crews and the pilots have a duty
of care, especially with a critical safety item such as an ejector seat.
Do they not have a torque wrench? Do they not check on the staus of
something that might save their life? Manufacturers can only do so much.
Human beings are imperfect creatures. As are the machines they make.
In order to get to the level of safety we have reached in air transport
(which is enormously safer than a few decades ago), absolutely
everything has to have several layers of checks and secure design. It
must be possible to make several mistakes and still not crash (obviously
depening on the exact mistake!). "We'll be alright if everyone always
does their job properly" simply isn't good enough. Look at all the
rigmarole to avoid operating on the wrong side of the patient in
hospital, and it still happens. Each manufacturer is held to the same
standard as the rest of the system.
This was a known issue that the manufacturers had warned many users
about. However, they did not warn the MoD, so the groud crew didn't know
it was critical.
The checks would probably only call for the safety pin to be in place,
which it was. The design was faulty, as it was possible to insert the
safety pin when the handle was not in the safe position. Again, the MoD
were not made aware of this.
Two points, the safety pin could be mis-located so that it looked OK but
was actually doing nothing. That's a design fault. I have the impression
that MB knew about the risk of overtightening, but had not made that
clear enough to the RAF.
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