Operations

Another Operational Pause for RCAF Snowbirds

Above image: Canadian Forces Snowbirds aircraft. TWITTER/CF Snowbirds

An operational pause has been ordered on the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CT-114 fleet following an accident with a 431 Squadron CT-114 Tutor aircraft on Aug. 2, 2022.

The accident occurred in Fort St. John, B.C., when the aircraft experienced an emergency during takeoff. According to a news release from the Department of National Defence (DND), the pilot was the only passenger aboard and was able to land immediately. However, the plane was damaged in the process. The pilot was not injured.

The accident has forced the Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division to order an operational pause on the fleet.

According to the news release, the Operational Airworthiness Authority for the RCAF, MGen. Iain Huddleston implemented the pause after consulting with the Directorate of Flight Safety investigators and with experts from the Technical Airworthiness Authority within the Department of National Defence’s Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel).

“Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft cannot be flown unless they are determined to be airworthy and safe to fly. Given that the cause of this accident remains to be determined by the Airworthiness Investigative Authority, I have ordered an operational pause on the CT-114 Tutor fleet as we continue the investigation and commence a thorough operational airworthiness risk assessment process. We will return the fleet to flying operations when it is safe to do so, and in accordance with our rigorous airworthiness program,” said MGen. Huddleston.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds (431 Air Demonstration Squadron) perform over 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia on April 11, 2017. Photo: Sgt Halina Folfas, 19 Wing Imaging Services.

Investigation Ongoing

An investigation into the accident is ongoing by the RCAF’s Directorate of Flight Safety. The investigation will conduct “a deliberate, detailed and broad risk analysis, with the aim of enabling the safe resumption of CT-114 flying operations.”

The aircraft will not operate until an operational airworthiness risk assessment can be completed.

The DND press release stated, “the RCAF’s airworthiness system will assess whether the accident and its causes pose any risk to continued flying operations, and if so, what mitigation measures can but put in place to lower those risks.”

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds, an air demonstration team from 431 Squadron Moose Jaw, Sask., fly in formation over the Comox valley 22 April 2008 while training at 19 Wing Comox, BC., for the 2008 air show season. Photo: MCpl Robert Bottrill, CF Combat Camera.

Second Pause for Snowbirds

The CT-114 Tutor is flown exclusively by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds air demonstration team at public events throughout North America.

Earlier this summer, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds were grounded and had to cancel shows due to issues with parachute ejection. This forced the Snowbirds to sit out Canada Day celebrations.

The RCAF has an active fleet of 20 CT-114 Tutor aircraft, operated by 431 (AD) Squadron based at 15 Wing Moose Jaw.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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