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Military pilots forced to eject while practising aerobatics: DND report

A crashed CT156 Harvard II is shown south of CFB Moose Jaw, Sask., in this recent handout photo.

HO/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An initial report into the crash of a training plane says the instructor and student pilot had to eject after getting into trouble practising basic aerobatics.

Both Royal Canadian Air Force officers survived the Jan. 27 bailout in southern Saskatchewan, but the CT-156 Harvard II aircraft was destroyed.

The Department of National Defence report says the plane lost power as the student pilot was pulling out of a manoeuvre and the instructor took over.

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The instructor couldn't get the plane to operate normally again, despite following checklists the military uses for aircraft problems.

The plane's instruments indicated that the engine was not working properly.

The instructor tried unsuccessfully to gain altitude, but determined the plane was too low to glide safely back to base at 15 Wing Moose Jaw for a forced landing.

"The attempt was unsuccessful, and the engine performance continued to degrade, leading the crew to carry out a controlled ejection," says the report released Monday.

"One crew members sustained minor injuries during the ejection, and the aircraft was destroyed in the subsequent ground impact."

The Air Force says basic aerobatics can include loops, cloverleafs (a loop with a 90-degree turn in it), barrel rolls, rolls and Cuban eights (similar to an "infinity" sign in the sky).

"The purpose of these manoeuvres are to expand on students' overall flying abilities and build their confidence flying in the three– dimension airspace. This ensures they are prepared for a wide variety of future flying operations across a spectrum of aircraft types and operational roles."

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The military says the ongoing investigation is focusing on the pilots, mechanical factors and training.

The Harvard II is a single-engine turboprop that is often used to help train new pilots before they go on to fly other types of aircraft.

The Air Force considers the Moose Jaw base the home of military pilot training in Canada. It is the principle site for the NATO flight-training program in Canada and home to the Snowbirds aerobatic demonstration team.

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