Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

June 19, 2009 18:00 ET

National Defence: Operational Pause Lifted

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - June 19, 2009) - The operational pause placed on aircraft equipped with an ejection seat system used by some Canadian Forces aircraft has been lifted. Based on the initial assessments, all lap belts in the system will be overhauled and tested via non-destructive means (x-ray) to ensure serviceability. Individual aircraft, including the Snowbirds, will be returned to service once the overhauled lap belts have been installed.

The operational pause, implemented on June 12 as a safety precaution, ordered that all flying operations cease until an assessment of overall fleet safety impacts could be completed. It affected the Hawk One F-86 Sabre, a CT-133 flown by the National Research Council, and all 25 CT-114 Tutors in the Air Force fleet, including the Golden Centennaire and the Snowbirds, the iconic aerobatic team that personifies excellence for the Canadian Forces. All of these aircraft share the same ejection seat system.

A problem was identified in the Ballistic Disconnect Link Assembly, a portion of the lap belt system that is designed to automatically come apart during an ejection sequence. Although the nature of the problem has been identified, its cause factors are still under investigation by the Directorate of Flight Safety.

The lap belts for the Hawk One Sabre and Golden Centennaire were overhauled, inspected and returned to service, and the lap belts for the Snowbirds' aircraft are currently being overhauled and inspected.

"This operational pause demonstrates the effectiveness of the procedures we use in the Air Force," said Major-General Marcel Duval, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region. "We caught the problem on the ground as part of our standard pre-flight checks, and once the investigation was launched, our people acted quickly to determine the problem and find a resolution."

The occurrence involved the Ballistic Disconnect Link Assembly and is unrelated to false-lock issues previously experienced on the CT-114 Tutor lap belt. The ongoing flight safety investigation is focusing on maintenance procedures and training.

Safety is paramount for the Canadian Forces (CF). The CF do not operate unsafe aircraft. Air Force technicians meticulously maintain CF aircraft, performing a deliberate and detailed maintenance routine before and after every flight.

Flight safety investigations are always very thorough, and the CF takes all flight safety incidents very seriously. The CF Flight Safety system is one of the most effective and respected in the world.

Contact Information

  • 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region
    Lieutenant (Navy) David Lavallee
    Public Affairs Officer
    204-833-2500 ext. 2029
    Cell: 204-471-5222
    david.lavallee2@forces.gc.ca