Statement released today (June 1, 2020) by RCAF regarding a possible cause of the Snowbirds crash on May 17 that killed Capt. Jenn Casey and seriously injured pilot Capt. Richard MacDougall:
On 17 May 2020 the Snowbirds air demonstration team was scheduled to depart Kamloops, BC to reposition to Comox, BC as part of Operation INSPIRATION, an operation undertaken by 431 (AD) Sqn to travel around multiple sites across Canada to support COVID-19 front line workers. Aircraft CT114161 was #2 of a formation of two CT114 Tutor aircraft. Two occupants were on board the aircraft, the pilot and the team’s public affairs officer.
After take-off aircraft CT114161 was observed gaining altitude and departing the formation. Shortly thereafter, the aircraft initiated a left turn, followed shortly by an abrupt steep nose low attitude. Both occupants subsequently ejected from the aircraft.
A detailed analysis of video footage recovered for the investigation revealed one bird in very close proximity to the aircraft right engine intake (see red circle in picture above) during the critical phase of take-off.
The two occupants ejected the aircraft however one received serious injuries and the other received fatal injuries. The aircraft was destroyed on impact.
The investigation is focusing on environmental factors (birdstrike) as well as the performance of the escape system.