Members of the Canadian Forces walk by the crash site of a Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, May 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Members of the Canadian Forces walk by the crash site of a Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, May 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Final report on deadly Snowbird crash in B.C. flags pilot actions

Capt. Jennifer Casey died in the crash

OTTAWA — A final report on last year’s deadly Snowbird crash in British Columbia is flagging the pilot’s actions in the moments after his plane struck a bird while taking off.

Flight-safety investigators say Capt. Richard MacDougall tried to turn his Tutor jet and return to the Kamloops Airport where he had just taken off after the bird strike caused his engine to stall.

That was despite past flight-safety reports having recommended pilots climb straight ahead to give themselves time to either regain control of their aircraft or allow for a safe ejection.

The report says the recommendation was based on other Tutor pilots having previously attempted the same manoeuvre to return to base after a loss of engine power, with none having been successful.

While MacDougall told investigators he decided to turn back because he was worried about crashing into a residential area, the report recommends the Snowbirds develop better procedures for dealing with such situations.

Investigators also found that passenger Capt. Jennifer Casey’s ejection seat flew backward after it left the plane, though they could not conclusively identify the cause or why she was unable to get clear of the seat.

Casey died in the crash while MacDougall sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2020.

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