Cause of Snowbirds crash won’t be known for weeks or months, commanding officer says

The commanding officer of the Snowbirds said Sunday's accident was the worst scenario that has become an "absolute worst nightmare".

Speaking of Moose Jaw Monday, Lieutenant Colonel. Mike French said the circumstances that led to the accident are not yet known.

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A Snowbirds jet crashed just after takeoff in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday. Captain Jenn Casey, public relations officer for Snowbirds, died in the accident. The pilot, Captain Richard McDougall, survived with non-fatal injuries.

"Yesterday's circumstances led to the confluence of all the worst scenarios and it became our worst nightmare," said the lieutenant colonel. French said at a news conference.

The Snowbirds were touring the country to raise people's spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The accident caused a residential fire.

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Lieutenant Colonel. French described Casey as "a tireless and energetic officer".

"She loved this job," he said. "Her loss is a serious blow, not just for our team, but for the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole."

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Jenn Casey, public relations officer for Snowbirds, died Sunday in the accident. (Royal Canadian Air Force)

Before the accident, McDougall and Casey ejected. French said McDougall would have ordered the ejection only after all options were exhausted.

"Our pilots are highly trained to do this maneuver," he said. "Not only that, we inform you before takeoff every time. And what you saw yesterday was the confluence of a lot of circumstances that came together, where it led to our worst scenario."

French said pilots do everything they can to mitigate risks to the public.

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"It is absolutely our first priority as pilots on these planes to consider the safety of the public, the safety of our personnel and the protection of equipment and preservation of properties," he said.

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The investigation may take a year to complete

The accident is still under investigation. French said the investigator would normally provide a quick snapshot in about 30 days, but the full investigation could take up to a year or more to complete.

Every two years, since the planes accumulate 400 flight hours, the CT-114 Tudor planes are demolished and rebuilt, said French, so that the planes are in "mint condition".

He said airplanes are also inspected every time before flying by avionics, aircraft structures, security systems and the pilot.

For now, the Snowbirds are grounded, although French said he hopes the mission will continue.

"As Canadian ambassadors, we demonstrate the skill, professionalism and teamwork of the Canadian forces and serve as a recruiting platform. It is a mission that I can leave behind, it is a mission that I believe in and it is a mission that I believe is important. "

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