The Commander of 2 Canadian Air Division, Brigadier-General Denis O’Reilly, has lifted the operational pause on the CT-114 Tutor fleet on August 24.
The operational pause was implemented following a Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor accident in Kamloops, B.C. on May 17, which resulted in the death of Captain Jennifer Casey, the Snowbirds Public Affairs Officer.
The return to flying operations follows a thorough technical and operational risk analysis that has outlined a series of risk mitigation measures. Due to the fact that there were two CT-114 Tutor accidents within eight months, the scope of the analysis was designed to be deliberate, detailed and broad to enhance the general safety of the CT-114 Tutor operations.
The risk mitigation measures being implemented place some restrictions on flying operations and focus on increased maintenance requirements.
A Directorate of Flight Safety (DFS) investigation into the Kamloops accident continues. Once the DFS investigation is complete, the RCAF will determine if further mitigation measures are required.
The remainder of the Snowbirds 2020 air demonstration season has been cancelled, and the team will now focus on gradually returning to flying operations. With the operational pause lifted, the aircraft in Kamloops, B.C. will return to 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Sask., which is expected to happen over the next two weeks.
“The risk analysis for the CT-114 Tutor fleet undertaken by the airworthiness authorities and their teams of experts was detailed and thorough. I have the utmost confidence in their work, and the mitigation measures developed. These measures will enable the fleet to return to flying operations,” said Brigadier-General Denis O’Reilly, Commander 2 Canadian Air Division.
“The Snowbirds continue to mourn the loss of Captain Jennifer Casey. The best way we can honour her is to get back into operations in a safe and deliberate manner. While we are saddened that the 2020 air demonstration season is officially cancelled, and that we will not be completing Operation INSPIRATION, the team is looking forward to getting back in the air and starting to train for next year’s season,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Denis Bandet, Commanding Officer 431 Air Demonstration Squadron.
The DFS investigation into the Kamloops accident is focusing on environmental factors (birdstrike) as well as the performance of the escape system, as is the case in all ejection-related accidents. A preliminary From the Investigator report was published on June 1, 2020.
The DFS investigation into the Georgia accident, which occurred on October 13, 2019, determined that the most probable cause of the accident was a fuel delivery system failure within the engine. The Flight Safety Investigation Report was publicly released on June 29, 2020.
The RCAF has a total of 23 CT-114 Tutor aircraft, including 18 at 431 Squadron. There are also five at the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., which are on the verge of retirement and storage.