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Investigators reveal cause of Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet crash

No one was injured in the Aug. 2 incident in Fort St. John, B.C., but the aircraft was damaged when the pilot made an emergency landing shortly after takeoff. (Department of national Defence/Quality Engineering Test Establishment) No one was injured in the Aug. 2 incident in Fort St. John, B.C., but the aircraft was damaged when the pilot made an emergency landing shortly after takeoff. (Department of national Defence/Quality Engineering Test Establishment)

The Royal Canadian Air Force says an improperly assembled oil filter led to the crash of a Snowbirds jet in northern British Columbia last month.

The Department of National Defence announced the finding on Wednesday as it lifted the operational pause that was put on all Snowbirds flights following the Aug. 2 accident in Fort St. John, B.C.

The air force's directorate of flight safety says that while the crash remains under investigation, the initial assessment indicates the CT-114 Tutor aircraft's oil filter was assembled wrong, causing the jet's engine to fail shortly after takeoff.

"The investigation is now analyzing the human factors that may have contributed to this occurrence," the report says.

The Tutor was embarking on a transit flight back to Moose Jaw, Sask., following the Fort St. John International Air Show.

The pilot conducted routine pre-flight checks prior to takeoff and confirmed a positive rate of climb after liftoff, according to the report.

However, when the pilot brought the landing gear up, a loud noise was heard and the engine immediately failed.

The jet slowed and began falling back towards the runway, prompting the pilot to try to put the landing gear back down, according to military investigators.

The landing gear "did not have sufficient time to fully cycle back to the locked-down position" and the aircraft hit the runway, collapsing the landing gear under the weight of the plane.

The jet skidded off the runway and into a fence, where it came to a rest after sustaining significant damage, according to the report.

The pilot, who was the sole occupant of the jet, exited the aircraft uninjured.

"Given that the team has not flown since the Aug. 2 accident, there is not enough time left for them to conduct the number of practices necessary to return to form for their scheduled shows," the Department of National Defence said Wednesday.

"Accordingly, the team’s remaining scheduled performances for 2022 have been cancelled."

The RCAF maintains a fleet of 20 Tutor jets used exclusively by the Snowbirds aerobatic demonstration team.

The Snowbirds were previously grounded in June due to a problem with the aircraft's emergency ejection parachute.

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