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Snowbirds remain grounded after pulling out of Armed Forces Day

'The Snowbirds and the CAF teams are working hard to get the team back in the air for Canada Day, July 1, in Ottawa'

The technical issues persist for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds in the wake of being forced to cancel their planned performance during the Armed Forces Appreciation Day event in North Bay, Wednesday.

See related: Safety concerns ground Snowbirds for Armed Forces Day

The 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, according to the Department of National Defence (DND).

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.

Major-General Eric Kenny, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division, Royal Canadian Air Force said via a news release, “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.” 

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, B.C., and the current issue concerning the Mk10B device and associated testing tool. 

DND notes 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 the next performances.