A crash involving a Canadian Forces Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor in Fort St. John in August was attributed to engine failure due to an improperly assembled oil filter.
That’s the finding from a flight safety investigator report recently released by the Royal Canadian Air Force following the Aug. 2 crash in support of the Fort St. John International Air Show.
The report indicates the aircraft was one of the nine Snowbirds stationed at the airport for the show July 30-31. Two days afterward, the aircraft was to be ferried from Fort St. John to Moose Jaw, SK on a standard transit flight.
On the morning of the accident, the pilot - the only occupant onboard - conducted a routine series of pre-flight checks before proceeding to the runway. After takeoff, the pilot confirmed a positive rate of climb and selected the landing gear up. Immediately afterward, the pilot heard a loud noise and the engine failed.
The aircraft rapidly started decelerating and descended back to the runway. The pilot selected the landing gear back down and elected to land the aircraft straight ahead, however, the landing gear did not have sufficient time to fully cycle back to the locked-down position.
The report noted the aircraft touched down with only approximately 500 feet of runway remaining. The unlocked landing gear collapsed under the weight of the aircraft and the aircraft skidded off the departure-end. After around 1,000 feet of travel, the plane struck the airport perimeter fence at low speed and came to rest.
The pilot secured the engine and immediately exited the aircraft.
The investigation is now analyzing the human factors that may have contributed to this occurrence.
In late September, the Snowbirds team announced an operational pause that was placed on the team following the crash was lifted in order for the jets to return to Moose Jaw.
“Having not flown since early August, our team will take the necessary time to re-train and get back in the air. Consequently, we will not be attending the remaining airshows this season,” read the statement.
The Snowbirds are planning to resume training for their 2023 season.