Fatal Snowbirds plane crash: Final moments included bird strike, engine stall in Kamloops, B.C.
VANCOUVER -- A final report into a fatal crash in Kamloops, B.C., suggests the engine of the Snowbirds aircraft stalled after the plane hit a bird.
The CT114 Tutor aircraft was part of a demonstration team headed to Comox, B.C., as part of a flyover program meant to boost spirits and thank front-line workers in the COVID-19 pandemic's early days, a mission called Operation Inspiration.
The report from the Royal Canadian Air Force into the incident on May 17, 2020, says evidence confirmed, as previously suspected, that a bird had been hit.
Officials said DNA "collected from the engine's internal components confirmed the ingestion of a bird," as was expected following the review of witness video. Witnesses also reported hearing a "loud, impact-like sound" after takeoff.
But the bird strike wasn't the only factor, the RCAF investigation found.
"The damage it caused was insufficient to cause a catastrophic failure. Rather, it resulted in a compressor stall that was never cleared."
According to the report, the pilot started to climb, then turned left, back toward the airport.
"The manoeuvre resulted in an aerodynamic stall halfway through the turn before the pilot gave the order to abandon the aircraft."
Both the pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, and public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey, ejected themselves from the plane.
MacDougall was seriously injured, and Casey did not survive.
The plane then crashed in a residential area. Fortunately no one else was injured.
The RCAF said in the report released Monday that evidence suggested Casey and MacDougall were outside the ejection envelope, a set of criteria ejection seats have that outlines when they will work as they should, or be safe to use.
No further information was given by the RCAF on this evidence.
Recommendations were included in the report, including that a directive be published outlining priorities during an emergency at takeoff or landing, when there could be a need to eject near or over a populated area.
Also among the recommendations is further training on engine-related emergencies, and that no items be stored between the ejection seat and the wall of the plane.
The RCAF did not say whether this practice was a factor in the Kamloops crash.
"Finally, further research is recommended into the potential options that would stabilize the CT114 ejection seat from any tendency to pitch, roll or yaw immediately following its departure from the ejection seat rails," the report said.
The investigation is considered closed.