An Uxbridge ejector seat firm has pleaded guilty after a Red Arrows pilot died when his parachute failed to open after he was ejected from his plane.
Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham was ejected from his Hawk T1 aircraft while on the ground doing pre-flight checks at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, on November 8, 2011, but his parachute failed to open.
Martin-Baker Aircraft Ltd director John Baker admitted breaching health and safety law, leading to the South African sustaining fatal injuries at the airfield that led to his death later that day in hospital.
The firm has been designing and manufacturing ejector seats for 73 years, during which time their seats have been used by 92 air forces, with 17,000 seats currently in use.
At an inquest into the 35-year-old's death in 2014, Central Lincolnshire coroner Stuart Fisher criticised Martin-Baker for failing to warn the RAF about safety issues.
Flight Lieutenant Cunningham's mother Monika, father Jim and sister Nicolette attended the hearing at Lincoln Crown Court on Monday (January 22).
A statement in tribute of the airman said: "Sean loved his flying and we hope that his life will be an inspiration to all those who share his dreams.
"His fun-loving nature has never failed to put a smile on the faces of those who knew and loved him - this is how he will be remembered."
In a statement released after the guilty plea, Higher Denham-based firm Martin-Baker said: "Firstly and most importantly we express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham.
"Martin-Baker's priority has and will always be the safety of the aircrew who sit on the company's seats.
"We appreciate that the Health and Safety Executive, during this process, has acknowledged this dedication and track record of saving lives.
"Our ejection seats have saved the lives of 1,050 British Royal Air Force and Navy aircrew, with a further 6,009 aircrew lives saved around the world."
Keep up to date with the latest news in west London via the free getwestlondon app.
You can set up your app to see all the latest news and events from your area, plus receive push notifications for breaking news.