Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bird Strike Takes Out Jet

A massive case of bad luck: I first saw this a few years ago, but it re-surfaced again today as I was strolling through the internet.

There are a number of examples of this footage that identify the aircraft as a USAF F-16, but in fact it is a Canadian (RCAF) BAE CT-155 Hawk jet trainer.  The incident took place on 14 May 2004 at the NATO Flight Training in Canada (NFTC) programme at CFB Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan (anyone who has been through the area would recognise the terrain).  The automatic voice instruction is male with a slight British accent (the F-16 version has a female voice).

The trainer (command pilot) was Canadian, of course, Captain John Hutt, and the student pilot was British RAF Flight Lieutenant Edward Morris.  You can see the bird at about the 0:06 mark, just as the aircraft has rotated off the runway, and it’s sucked into the port intake.  The automatic warning ‘T6 NL’ refers to the turbine temperature out of limits (T6), which would spike rather quickly with an ‘avian injection’; ‘NL’ refers to the low pressure turbine off the scale.  (Does it sound like I know what I’m talking about?  I understand the concept, but I’m not adept by any means.  If anyone has better information, by all means update in the comments section.)

The heavy breathing is a natural reaction to the incident, from Flt Lt Morris, but despite that, the training and expertise of the crew takes over, with Capt Hutt calmly but quickly (he only has about 45 seconds) to work through the procedure.  They attempt to re-start the engine, twice, to no avail.  Hutt tells Morris and Flight Control (who is a little slow on the uptake) that they will eject.  If it is the same type system that I am aware of, the command pilot initiates the ejection, which also ejects the student (notice that he tells him to prepare to eject, meaning position himself correctly).  Once they are out, the nose drops significantly as there is no more attitude control, and it corkscrews slightly to port before it literally ‘buys the farm’.

Both pilots ejected safely, but Capt Hutt was injured when he struck the ground in a malfunctioned flight seat.  His back injury apparently effectively grounded him.

What impresses me (other than looking at this type of incident from the inside) is how calmly the pilots work through the problem and arrive at the only possible conclusion, and act on it.  Good show.

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