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Saturday, 27 July, 2002, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Air show safety in the spotlight
Boy at the scene of the crash
Many of those injured in the Ukraine crash were children

The air show crash in Ukraine on Saturday which killed at least 70 bystanders is likely to raise questions about how spectators can be better protected.

Thousands of people had gathered at the Skniliv airfield in Lviv, near the Polish border, when the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet crashed in a ball of flame onto the ground around them.

Past air show crashes
June 1999: 2 killed when a BA Hawk 200 crashes in Slovakia
July 1997: 9 die in a light aircraft crash in Belgium
Aug 1988: 70 die when three Italian Air Force jets collide in West Germany
Sept 1982: 46 killed when US Army Chinook helicopter crashes in Germany
June 1973: 15 die when prototype Russian jet explodes in mid-air
Stricter safety rules for air shows were introduced in several European countries after a series of accidents in the 1980s.

In the world's worst air show disaster until the crash in Ukraine, about 70 spectators were killed when two Italian jets collided and spiralled into a crowd at a show in Ramstein in Germany in 1988.

Forty-six people were killed in 1982 when an American helicopter crashed at a display in Mannheim, also in Germany.

A Russian jetliner similar to the Concorde crashed at Le Bourget air show outside Paris in 1973, killing 15 people.

Popular events

Despite accidents, air shows draw massive crowds. Display pilots, under pressure to put on a dramatic performance, sometimes take extra risks.

Air shows rank among the most popular spectator events in some countries, surpassed only by football matches and other big sporting events.

Wreckage of the plane
The jet was performing complicated manoeuvres when it crashed
The tragedies in Ukraine and in Ramstein happened while the planes were performing complicated aerobatic manoeuvres.

Experts say one of the keys to safety at air shows is keeping spectators away from what they call the "aerobatic box" - the area in which pilots perform their stunts.

In the United States this box has to be about 1km (0.6miles) wide and more than 3km (1.8miles) long.

Air shows are not the only events where spectators can be in danger, but the scale of the catastrophe in Ukraine will certainly lead to some soul-searching about how to make them safer.

See also:

27 Jul 02 | Europe
21 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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