Canada lifts operational pause of CT-114 Tutor fleet

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) lifted the operational pause of its Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet trainer fleet on August 24.

Brig Gen Denis O’Reilly, commander of the RCAF’s 2 Canadian Air Division, lifted the operational pause, which was implemented in May following the second CT-114 incident within eight months. The most recent involved a Tutor belonging to the service’s 431 Air Demonstration Squadron ‘Snowbirds’ – Canada’s national aerobatic team, which crashed on May 17 in Kamloops, British Colombia (BC). The incident resulted in the death of Capt Jennifer Casey, the team’s public affairs officer.

Snowbirds CT-114 [USAF/Airman Jacob B Wrightsman]
Pilots with the RCAF's 431 Air Demonstration Squadron 'Snowbirds' perform a pre-flight display at the Defenders of Liberty Air & Space Show at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), Louisiana, on May 19, 2019. USAF/Airman Jacob B Wrightsman

The CT-114 Tutor fleet’s return to flight operations comes after the air arm completed a thorough technical and operational risk analysis that outlined a number of risk mitigation measures. According to the Canadian government, “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 new risk mitigation measures will place some restrictions on flying operations while increasing the focus on the fleet’s maintenance requirements. The RCAF’s Directorate of Flight Safety (DFS) continues to investigate the Kamloops accident. Once complete, the air arm will determine if additional measures are required to further mitigate the risk of future incidents.

As a result of the May 17 incident and the grounding of the CT-114 fleet, the Snowbirds’ 2020 display season was cancelled. The team will now gradually return to flight operations before returning to Canadian Forces Base Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan, BC, from Kamloops, where the aircraft have been since May. This is expected to happen over the next two weeks.