The investigation into what caused the plane crash at the Shoreham Airshow “will probably take a couple of years at least”, an aviation expert has said.
A large crane was today being used to remove the wreckage of the 1950s Hawker Hunter jet which plummeted onto the A27 in West Sussex after failing to pull out of a loop-the-loop stunt.
Pilot Andrew Hill is fighting for his life after being put into a medically induced coma, while at least 11 people were killed in the crash. Police earlier said the final death toll could be up to 20.
The plane’s remains could be taken to the hangar of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) in Farnborough, Hampshire, for forensic examination. Dozens of investigators will be tasked with finding out why the pilot failed to pull out.
Aviation expert Julian Bray predicted the results of the full inquiry will not be known for several years.
He said: “In this particular case, they will not only learn the lessons, but there is going to be a huge investigation. The investigation will probably take a couple of years at least and then a very detailed report will come out.
“They have got to recover the fuselage and they will probably take it to Farnborough or they might hire a private warehouse. They will reconstruct the whole aircraft as far as they can to find out what happened.
“Hopefully the pilot will survive and will be able to assist with the debrief.”
The crash site will be examined and witness statements will be taken. The AAIB has also appealed to members of the public to send them any photographs or video footage of the crash to aid the inquiry. The regulator said it will publish a preliminary report when the initial stages of the investigation are completed.
The disaster prompted the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to announce restrictions on air shows “until further notice” on the flying of vintage jets.
Displays by vintage jets over land will be limited to flypasts, which means high-energy acrobatics are banned.
A statement by the CAA said it will “conduct additional risk assessments on all forthcoming civil air displays to establish if additional measures should be introduced”.
Worthing United footballers Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, and 24-year-old personal trainer Matt Jones were among those killed in the crash.
Motorcyclist Mark Trussler, from Worthing, is missing, while fears have been raised over Daniele Polito, a father from Worthing who was travelling in the same car as Mr Jones.
Maurice Abrahams, 76, the driver of a Daimler limousine on its way to pick up a bride for her wedding, was also named as a victim. His family said: “Maurice is a well-respected and loved father and husband. He enjoyed his work chauffeuring his beloved Daimler car and he enjoyed gardening.
“He was proud to have served in the Grenadier Guards and the Parachute Regiment. He served in Cyprus and Bahrain with the UN. In his 30s he served as a police officer with Hampshire Police. The family would ask that its privacy is respected at this difficult time.”
West Sussex coroner Penny Schofield warned that work to identify the victims would be a “slow and painstaking operation”. She said it may take “several weeks” before all investigations are completed, adding that in the meantime liaison officers were assigned to bereaved relatives.