The Canadian Department of National Defence’s Airworthiness Investigative Authority has issued the final report in relation to a crash involving a Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor aircraft in Hampton, Georgia on October 13, 2019.
The released document presented the findings pertaining to the cause of the crash, as well as recommendations and measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The crash involved a CT-114 Tutor aircraft from the Canadian Armed Forces Air Demonstration Team (Snowbirds), enroute to the Atlanta Air Show being held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. The crash site was 10 NM east of Peachtree City, Georgia, USA.
Following a routine check while inverted, the pilot then rolled level and applied full power to rejoin the formation. Shortly after, the pilot experienced a loss of thrust. Losing altitude and unable to recover engine power, the pilot elected to eject as the aircraft was too low to attempt a safe recovery to an airport. The pilot successfully ejected from the aircraft however reported anomalies with the ejection sequence and the parachute opening.
The aircraft was destroyed upon impact and the pilot received minor injuries as a result of the ejection sequence.
The investigation determined that the most probable cause of the CT114071 accident was a fuel delivery system failure within the engine. The precise location of the failure could not be identified with confidence, though given the evidence of pre-existing damage to the engine oil cooler fuel inlet port, the analysis suggests a potential fuel leak at that location.
The investigation also determined that the mostly likely cause of the parachute malfunction was the result of one or more parachute pack retaining cones having been released prior to the activation of the MK10B Automatic Opening Device. Entanglement of the suspension lines with parts of the ejection seat immediately followed ultimately disrupting the proper opening of the parachute canopy. Inspection of all related Tutor Aviation Life Support Equipment was subsequently carried out to ensure fleet airworthiness.
The investigation recommended that an inspection be carried out on CT114 engines to identify any damaged oil coolers that may be at risk of leaking at the fuel ports. In addition, the investigation recommended establishing a controlled verification process on the maintenance activities involving fuel transfer tubes in an effort to identify the cause of the damage to the oil cooler ports. Further recommended measures include improving the fitment of the fuel tubes and consolidating and improving on the maintenance instructions that involve the oil cooler and its components.
Canadian Forces Snowbirds
The Snowbirds, officially known as 431 Air Demonstration Squadron (French: 431e escadron de démonstration aérienne), are the military aerobatics or air show flight demonstration team of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
The Snowbirds are the first Canadian air demonstration team to be designated as a squadron. The team’s official mission is to “demonstrate the skill, professionalism, and teamwork of Canadian Forces personnel”.
The team is based at 15 Wing Moose Jaw near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The show team flies 11 Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet trainer—nine for aerobatic performances, including two solo aircraft, and two as spares, flown by the team coordinators.