Canadian Air Force grounds Snowbirds aerobatic team

Canadian Air Force grounds Snowbirds
RCAF Snowbirds aerobatic team.

The Government of Canada announced yesterday that following the accident involving a 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron CT-114 Tutor aircraft on August 2, 2022 in Fort St. John, B.C. the Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division has ordered an operational pause on the CT-114 fleet.

As the Operational Airworthiness Authority for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Major General Iain Huddleston implemented the operational pause after consulting with 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,” Huddleston said.

The RCAF will conduct a deliberate, detailed and broad risk analysis, with the aim of enabling the safe resumption of CT-114 flying operations. This operational pause means the fleet of aircraft will not fly until an operational airworthiness risk assessment can be completed.

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 cause of the accident remains under investigation by the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Directorate of Flight Safety.

On August 2, a CT-114 Tutor aircraft of 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron experienced an emergency during takeoff in Fort St. John, B.C. The pilot, who was sole occupant, was able to land the plane immediately, but the plane was damaged in the process. The pilot was medically assessed and was uninjured. An investigation into the accident by the RCAF’s Directorate of Flight Safety is currently underway.

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

The CT-114 Tutor is flown exclusively by Canadian Forces Snowbirds air demonstration team at public events throughout North America. The Snowbirds showcase the high level of skill, professionalism and teamwork, inherent in the members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

The Tutor aircraft was a primary trainer for the Royal Canadian Air Force until 2000. The Tutors flown by the Snowbirds are slightly modified for show features and enhanced performance during low-level aerobatic flying.

Source: Government of Canada

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