What’s regatta’s acceptable risk?

Thursday 7th September 2017 1:04 pm

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Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous but, to a greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.

It has been said that decisions about the Port of Dartmouth Regatta’s air displays have been made “because of Shoreham”. That cannot be the case. The accident at Shoreham exemplified the dangers, but just what is the likelihood of another experienced pilot being so careless – flying an old aircraft at its limits, outside his agreed flight plan, at a height not permitted? Negligible, surely.

I have written and asked the harbour master and Messrs Ed Botterill and Hilary Bastone of the regatta committee for sight of the risk assessment carried out in connection with the air display, as stated in their recent press release: “The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta were unable to reduce the number (of vessels moored in the river) to below an acceptable level of risk as outlined in our Risk Assessment.”

I have also asked for details of how the ‘acceptable level of risk’ was determined – as Saturday’s Typhoon carried out four passes and barrel-rolls directly above my head and house in Kingswear, and I am now highly anxious at what risk I was exposed to. I may have to see my doctor for some anxiolytics.

Until the risk assessment and ‘acceptable level of risk’ appraisal can be studied it is not possible for residents, or visitors, to assess whether the committee’s decision not to have the Red Arrows and to cancel Friday’s Typhoon was well informed or a flight of imagination.

Dr Richard Rawlins

Beacon Road, Kingswear

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