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Faulty oil filter skuttled Snowbirds North Bay appearance

The investigation is now analyzing the human factors that may have contributed to this occurrence
CF Snowbirds June 24
Canadian Forces Snowbirds aircraft.

The Snowbirds were scheduled to fly during North Bay's Armed Forces Day Day this summer when a last-minute glitch cancelled their appearance, A news release at the time said A brief news release blamed a "recently discovered technical issue" for preventing the team from safely flying.

See: Safety concerns ground Snowbirds for Armed Forces Day

The operational pause was implemented following an accident involving a Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor aircraft on August 2 in Fort St. John, B.C. The Operational Airworthiness Authority suspended flights on August 8.

Today, the Snowbirds were cleared to resume flying.

"An operational pause means aircraft temporarily stop flying until an operational airworthiness risk assessment can be completed, and it is safe for flying operations to resume," says a National Defence news release.

"In this case, the accident remains under investigation, but the investigation to date has yielded enough information for a thorough risk assessment to be conducted. The initial From the Investigator report has been released and confirmed that the engine failure was due to an improperly assembled oil filter. The investigation is now analyzing the human factors that may have contributed to this occurrence.

The type of precision flying in the Snowbirds’ aerobatic performances requires a very high level of proficiency, which in turn necessitates a great amount of practice.

"Given that the team has not flown since the August 2 accident, there is not enough time left for them to conduct the number of practices necessary to return to form for their scheduled shows. Accordingly, the team’s remaining scheduled performances for 2022 have been cancelled," says the release.

“Thanks to the thoroughness of our investigative processes, we have been able to conduct a complete risk analysis that has shown it is safe for the CT-114 Tutor fleet to resume flying," says Major-General Iain Huddleston. "While we are all very pleased the team can resume flying, the decision to cancel their remaining performances was a difficult one. Looking forward, we will provide the Snowbirds with the support they need as they build towards their 2023 show season.”

“While we are happy that we can safely resume flying, we are very disappointed that our season ended so early," added Lieutenant-Colonel Denis Bandet, Commanding Officer 431 Air Demonstration Squadron. "Our focus now is to get back in the air, get our jets home, and start working on preparations for next year’s show season.”

On August 2, a CT-114 Tutor aircraft experienced an emergency during takeoff in Fort St. John, B.C. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was able to land the plane immediately, but the plane was damaged in the process. 

The RCAF has an active fleet of 20 CT-114 Tutor aircraft, operated by 431 (AD) Squadron based at 15 Wing Moose Jaw. The CT-114 Tutor is flown exclusively by Canadian Forces Snowbirds air demonstration team at public events throughout North America. 

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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