A team of military investigators arrived in British Columbia on Monday to begin searching for answers into Sunday’s deadly Snowbirds jet crash, which the aerobatic team’s commander described as a confluence of “worst-case scenarios”.
The eight-member flight investigation team was deployed from Ottawa to Kamloops, where one of the Snowbirds’ Tutor jets went down shortly after takeoff. The Snowbirds had been in the midst of a cross-country tour aimed at boosting morale during the Covid-19 pandemic.
One Canadian Armed Forces member, Captain Jennifer Casey, a spokesperson, was killed while another, Captain Richard MacDougall, who was piloting the aircraft, sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries.
During a news conference at an air force base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where the Snowbirds are based, team commander Mike French said the cross-country tour known as Operation Inspiration had been suspended while the team’s Tutor jets were subject to an “operational pause”.
Lt Col French would not speculate on the cause of the crash, but insisted safety was the Snowbirds’ “No. 1 priority”.
He added each aircraft was torn down and rebuilt about every two years and subject to regular maintenance and checks prior to every flight.
The crash was actually the second for the Snowbirds since October and the second involving a Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft in as many months after a Cyclone helicopter went down in the Ionian Sea on April 29, killing all six people on board.
The Snowbird jet crashed into a residential neighborhood in Kamloops. Nobody on the ground was injured.