SONIC BOOM: Compensation claims after Doncaster blasts include bill for cracked fish tank
The Ministry of Defence has been hit with a string of compensation claims after homes across Yorkshire were shaken by deafening sonic booms when two RAF jets broke the sound barrier during a supersonic pursuit.
Concerned residents in towns and villages across the region called police and fire services with reports that their houses were shaking after what sounded like two large explosions on May 2.
The RAF later said the booms were caused by two fighter jets scrambled from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, and were flying faster than the speed of sound to intercept an Air France jet that had lost radio communications on its flight from Paris to Newcastle.
Figures obtained by i,our sister paper, under Freedom of Information laws show the MOD has since received 11 compensation claims for damage to property in North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.
They include five claims for damaged windows, three claims of damage to roofs, two for cracked ceilings – and one claim for a cracked fish tank.
So far, the MOD has paid out just over £550 to claimants. The remaining claims are yet to be settled, while one claim for a dislodged roof tile has been withdrawn.
Dr Stephen Wright, an aviation lecturer at the University of Leeds, said: “Those guys were going at maximum speed. They are doing a job. They are keeping us all safe. It’s very unusual, but it demonstrates how seriously the UK takes its security, with aviation safety being paramount after 9/11.
“Pilots are not allowed to fly at that speed over the mainland. They have to answer to the Civil Aviation Authority. The RAF is very considerate and doesn’t want to disturb people on the ground, but there are times when they have to maintain the safety and defence of the nation.”
Separate figures obtained by i under FOI laws show that the MOD has paid out £3,576 to claimants following eight sonic booms since April 2013.
Those payments include £1,207 for cracked windows in Anglesey in March 2014, £780 for damaged patio doors and a chandelier in Cambridgeshire in June 2014 and £500 for a car accident in Cambridgeshire the same month where it was claimed a driver was startled by the noise of a sonic boom.
They have also been made for dislodged roof tiles in Lincolnshire and Hertfordshire, cracked windows in Norfolk and cracked patio doors in Essex.
An RAF spokesman said: “RAF aircrew are subject to stringent control over the use of supersonic speed over land.
“However, they are sometimes authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons as part of their role in the defence of the UK.
“Any inconvenience caused by the public is regretted, but this must be balanced against the need to maintain national security in an unpredictable and dangerous world.”