TORONTO — The May 17 crash that killed a member of the Snowbirds team and injured a pilot may have been caused by a bird, an investigator revealed Monday.
“A detailed analysis of video footage recovered for the investigation revealed one bird in very close proximity to the aircraft right engine intake during the critical phase of take-off,” the investigator with the Department of National Defence’s Airworthiness Investigative Authority said in a brief statement.
Both occupants of the CT-114 Tutor aircraft ejected and the plane was destroyed after it crashed into a residential neighbourhood in Kamloops, B.C.
The probe into the crash will focus on a bird strike, along with the performance of the jet’s escape system, the statement said.
National Defence said Monday that the report “is a brief summary of the circumstances and factual information known at this time. It does not provide full details surrounding the accident, but rather indicates the areas of focus for the investigation, which remains underway.”
The department also said that escape systems are investigated in all accidents involving ejections.
The Snowbirds’ public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey, a 35-year-old native of Halifax, was killed and pilot Capt. Richard MacDougall, 38, who hails from Dieppe, N.B., continues to recover from his injuries.
The air demonstration team was undertaking a cross-Canada Operation Inspiration flyovers of communities to lift spirits during the pandemic and salute front-line workers when the crash occurred. Two aircraft were heading from Kamloops to Comox and departed from Kamloops airport side by side. Just seconds into the flight, one jet veered off and gained altitude, before quickly entering a steep nose dive and crashing.
The CT-114 Tutor fleet has been grounded since the accident occurred. The Royal Canadian Air Force says it aims to return the jets to operations once a risk assessment is complete.