Canadian Snowbirds Grounded Until Technical Issue Sorted Out

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The Canadian Forces Snowbirds (431 Air Demonstration Squadron) perform over 19 Wing Comox. 431 (AD) Squadron and CF-188 Demo Team deployed to 19 Wing Comox to complete training prior to the start of the 2017 Air Show season. Approximately 42 personnel and 14 CT-114 aircraft deployed to 19 Wing Comox for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. Pilots will acquaint themselves with mountainous terrain and over-water show sites. Images by MS Roxanne Wood 19 Wing Imaging 2017, DND-MDN Canada
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds (431 Air Demonstration Squadron) perform over 19 Wing Comox. 431 (AD) Squadron and CF-188 Demo Team deployed to 19 Wing Comox to complete training prior to the start of the 2017 Air Show season. Images by MS Roxanne Wood 19 Wing Imaging 2017, DND-MDN Canada CX04-2017-0135-090 Le 11 avril 2017 19e Escadre Comox Les Snowbirds des Forces canadiennes (431e Escadron de démonstration aérienne) donnent un spectacle au-dessus de la 19e Escadre Comox. Le 431e Escadron de démonstration aérienne et l’équipe de démonstration du CF-18 se sont rendus à la 19e Escadre Comox afin de terminer leur entraînement en vue de la saison de spectacles aériens de 2017. Environ 42 militaires et 14 avions CT-114 ont participé au déploiement des Snowbirds des Forces canadiennes. Les pilotes se familiariseront avec le terrain montagneux et les lieux de spectacles au-dessus de l’eau. Photos : Matc Wood R.E. Services multimédias de la 19e Escadre 2017, DND-MDN CANADA

OTTAWA – The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will be unable to fly in planned airshows and fly pasts, until a technical issue is resolved that relates to a device that sets the timing for the deployment of the parachute during the ejection sequence.

“While it is certainly disappointing the Snowbirds anticipate they will need to cancel upcoming performances until this technical issue is resolved, I applaud our aviation technicians for discovering this issue. This speaks to our flight safety culture in the RCAF, and the professionalism of our maintainers. We have full confidence that this issue will be resolved in a safe manner, working with a third-party aviation contractor and our own technical and maintenance experts,” says Major-General Eric Kenny, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division, Royal Canadian Air Force.

During routine maintenance on the parachutes at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on June 19, aviation technicians discovered that the tool may not be calibrated accurately. Out of an abundance of caution, the parachutes currently being used by aircrew flying in CT-114 Tutor aircraft will now be re-tested and re-packed, as necessary, to ensure proper timing is set for their activation in the event of an emergency.

It is not known how long it will take to resolve this issue, but the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is working diligently with subject matter experts and a third-party aviation contractor to get the team back in the air as soon as it is safe to do so. It is anticipated that upcoming performances in the Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview areas in New Brunswick on Wednesday, June 29, will need to be cancelled. The Snowbirds and the CAF teams are working hard to get the team back in the air for Canada Day, July 1, in Ottawa.

Quick facts

  • The RCAF takes flight safety very seriously. No RCAF aircraft will be flown unless it is determined to be airworthy and safe to fly. The RCAF maintenance crew, including those of 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron are well trained and qualified aviation maintenance professionals who are dedicated to ensuring safe and airworthy aircraft, and associated aviation life support equipment.
  • A review of the Directorate of Flight Safety report by RCAF Airworthiness Authority experts has determined that there is no link between the CT-114 Tutor accident on May 17, 2020 in Kamloops and the current issue concerning the Mk10B device and associated testing tool.
  • An operational pause has not been invoked for the CT-114 fleet. This issue affects a component of aviation life support equipment associated with the aircraft, not the aircraft itself.
  • The team will not fly until the parachutes have been verified as being within specifications for their safe operation in an emergency.
  • The RCAF will communicate through social media when we have further updates, including confirmation of next performances.