The family of the pilot involved in the Shoreham air crash have said they are "devastated" at the loss of live that occurred. Andrew Hill, 51, was flying the Hawker Hunter during the show in West Sussex on 22 August before crashing into the A27. At least 11 people have so far been confirmed to have died, but Sussex Police warned there could be as many as 20 victims once they have cleared the wreckage of the plane from the crash site.
Hill, an experienced British Airways pilot described as the "best of the best", managed to survive the crash and is currently in a serious condition in hospital. In a statement, his family said: "Following the tragic events at the Shoreham Air Show on Saturday, the pilot's family are devastated and deeply saddened for the loss of life, and they send their prayers and heartfelt condolences to the families of all those affected at this difficult time.
"Andrew Hill, remains in critical condition. He has multiple injuries and is in a medically induced coma. His family pay tribute to the emergency services for their highly professional response following the accident and to the medical team at the Royal Sussex County Hospital for the care they are continuing to provide to Andrew."
An investigation is under way to determine if it was an error on Hill's part or a technical problem which caused the plane to crash soon after performing a loop for the air show. But the Royal Air Forces Association (Rafa), which organises the Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex, defended its safety record. It assured its safety standards at air displays in Britain "are among the very highest in the world".
A spokesperson added: "All air display arrangements, including the pilots and aircraft, must meet rigorous safety requirements and are regularly reviewed to ensure they provide the highest possible levels of protection.
"At Shoreham we have always taken those safety arrangements very seriously. Two highly experienced pilots (both with current Civil Aviation Authority display authorisation) regularly displayed the aircraft in question.
"They shared their air show commitments between them and it was entirely routine that a change from one to the other was made – and this decision was made over a month ago. The pilot flying the Hunter on Saturday had displayed at last year's Shoreham Airshow."
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, of Sussex Police, said: "The number of highly likely dead remains at 11, but may rise. However, we do not expect that figure to be greater than 20, probably fewer. "
He added: "This has been an enormously traumatic incident and our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the incident, from those who have suffered bereavement to those in the local community who are deeply shocked. I would like to pay tribute to colleagues in all of the emergency services, partner agencies and the organisers whose compassion and professionalism in the most extreme of circumstances has been widely commented upon.
"The scene of the incident is a large one, extending around 400 yards along the A27 and spilling off to the sides and just partly on to the airfield itself. We do know that no one on the airfield attending the show was injured."