Location: Near Cold Lake, Alberta
Status: Investigation Ongoing
From the Investigator (FTI) (pdf 101 kb)
From the Investigator:
The single seat CF188 was flying as the second aircraft in a two-aircraft formation on a Night Vision Goggles (NVG) training mission. The prevailing weather was instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) and the accident occurred at night. During a radar trail instrument approach to runway 13L at Cold Lake, Lead called for the landing gear to be selected down. Upon selection of the landing gear, the wingman was almost immediately disoriented by the sudden rush of falling snow as it was illuminated by his landing light, which also reflected enough light through his Head Up Display (HUD) to washout the instrument references he used to control the aircraft. As a result of the visual inputs, the pilot perceived that he had entered a steep descent. In response, the pilot made an aft stick input and pulled the aircraft into a nose-high attitude. Still feeling that he was in a dive and thinking he was rapidly approaching the ground below, but unable to confirm his attitude using outside references or his HUD, the pilot decided to eject.
The ejection was successful and the parachute landing in a forested area was uneventful. The aircraft crashed in a nose-down, near wings level attitude and was destroyed. The uninjured pilot activated his personal locator beacon and used flares to direct the Search and Rescue helicopter to his location. The pilot was transported back to 4 Wing Cold Lake two and one half hours after his ejection.
A review of the recorded flight data and pilot testimony indicated that the aircraft was serviceable and operating normally. A preliminary review of operator practices determined that CF188 aircraft at the time of the accident were routinely operating on NVGs in IMC and at an unlit airfield, however, neither are authorized in accordance with Division Flying Orders.
The pilot was inexperienced in night flying and it had been 224 days since his previous NVG training mission. The investigation is focussing on the human factors surrounding the occurrence. This will include disorientation, organizational pressures and training practices. 1 Canadian Air Division has directed that CF188 NVG training now commence only after a pilot has increased flying experience.The investigation also found numerous anomalies in the aircraft life support equipment practices and record keeping. Also noted, although not related to the accident, were areas of inconsistency in maintenance practices dealing with CF188 inlet icing cautions and de-icing procedures.