‘Good questions’ being asked about safety of Snowbirds: Trudeau

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there are “very good questions” being asked about the safety of the Snowbirds, but that the government will wait for an investigation before deciding on next steps for the military’s aerobatic team.

The prime minister’s comments followed Sunday’s deadly crash in Kamloops, B.C., when one of the Snowbirds’ Tutor jets crashed into a residential neighbourhood shortly after takeoff.

Military public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey was killed while Capt. Rich MacDougall, who was piloting the aircraft, sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The crash was the second for the Snowbirds since October, when one of the team’s planes crashed in the U.S. state of Georgia, raising questions about whether the two incidents are related to the aerobatic team’s 57-year-old Tutor planes.

“I think there are very good questions being asked by a whole lot of people about safety,” Trudeau said Tuesday during his daily COVID-19 news conference in Ottawa.

“First and foremost by the RCAF and there is going to be a proper investigation and we’re going to allow them to do their work before we make assumptions about what might be the outcome of that investigation.”

Snowbirds commander Lt.-Col. Mike French said Monday that while investigators are still assessing the cause of Sunday’s crash, the Tutor jets are regularly torn down and rebuilt like new and undergo regular maintenance to ensure they are safe.

Several retired Air Force officers have similarly vouched for the aircraft despite its age.