Snowbirds cleared for take-off again but not leaving Kamloops just yet | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Snowbirds cleared for take-off again but not leaving Kamloops just yet

The Snowbirds jets have been grounded at the Kamloops Airport since May 17.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Royal Canadian Air Force
August 24, 2020 - 10:45 AM

The operational pause has been lifted on the fleet of Snowbirds at the Kamloops Airport and they are free to return home.

The pause was lifted today by Brigadier-General Denis O’Reilly, the Commander of 2 Canadian Air Division. The planes have been grounded since the May 17 accident that claimed the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey.

On May 17, the Snowbirds were nearing the end of their cross-Canada tour dubbed Operation Inspiration, aimed at lifting spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon takeoff from the Kamloops Airport, the plane carrying Capt. Richard MacDougall and Capt. Jennifer Casey is suspected to have been hit by a birdstrike. The plane crashed into the nearby Brocklehurst neighbourhood, but no civilians were killed or injured. MacDougall was taken to hospital with injuries but Casey died at the scene.

READ MORE: Kamloops neighbourhood deals with trauma from Snowbirds crash

The fact that the planes can now return to the skies comes after a technical and operational risk analysis that outlined a number of risk mitigation measures. Because there had been two accidents with the CT-114 Tutors within eight months, the analysis was detailed and broad to ensure safety.

“The risk analysis for the CT-114 Tutor fleet undertaken by the airworthiness authorities and their teams of experts was detailed and thorough. I have the utmost confidence in their work, and the mitigation measures developed. These measures will enable the fleet to return to flying operations,” O'Reilly says in the media release.

READ MORE: Video shows ejection from Snowbirds plane in Kamloops

According a to release from the Royal Canadian Air Force, there will be increased maintenance requirements and some restrictions on flying operations, although it’s not clear what flight operations may be allowed.

The investigation into the May 17 crash is still underway, and once that is complete the Royal Canadian Air Force will determine if further mitigation efforts are needed.

According to David Lavallee, a public affairs officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force, the pilots will begin training on CT-114 Tutor jets in Moose Jaw this week. Once they are again familiarized and certified to fly the planes, they'll return to Kamloops to bring the fleet back to the home base in Moose Jaw. Although it is not yet clear when exactly they'll be flying out of Kamloops, it's expected to happen in the next two weeks.

— This story was updated at 1:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 to add additional information about the pilots' training and eventual departure from Kamloops.

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