U.S. Air Force Instructor Pilot Dies After T-6A Texan II Ejection Seat Incident

Investigation Launched Into Ground Operations Accident at 80th Flying Training Wing
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 06:44 AM, May 15, 2024
  • 596
U.S. Air Force Instructor Pilot Dies After T-6A Texan II Ejection Seat Incident
T-6A Texan II aircraft

An Air Force instructor pilot assigned to the 80th Flying Training Wing tragically passed away this morning due to injuries sustained during an incident involving the activation of an ejection seat on a T-6A Texan II aircraft during ground operations on May 13.

The pilot, identified as Capt. John Robertson of the 80th Operations Support Squadron, was severely injured when the ejection seat of the T-6A Texan II aircraft he was in activated unexpectedly during ground operations. An investigation into the cause of this incident is currently underway.

In response to the accident, an interim safety board investigation was promptly convened, and a full Air Force Safety Investigation Board is expected to be established later this week. The findings of the investigation will be released upon its completion.

The 80th Flying Training Wing plays a pivotal role in the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), specifically within the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) program, which is the only internationally managed and manned flying training initiative worldwide. This program involves participants from 14 NATO member countries, aiming to standardize pilot training and enhance interoperability among allied nations.

The Wing utilizes two types of aircraft for training purposes: the T-6A Texan II for primary flight training and the T-38C Talon for advanced jet training.

The T-6A Texan II, manufactured by Raytheon Aircraft, is a military training version of the Beech/Pilatus PC-9 Mk II. This aircraft is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer utilized in the Joint Primary Pilot Training (JPPT) program for the U.S. Air Force and Navy. Notably, its ejection seat system is secured by safety pins when the aircraft is on the ground to prevent unintended activations.

Unfortunately, incidents involving unintentional ejection seat activations have been reported in military aviation, leading to fatal outcomes. For instance, in 2021 at Shaikovka airbase in Russia, three crew members died due to unintentional ejection seat activations during takeoff preparations. Similarly, in 2011 at RAF Scampton in England, Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham lost his life due to an accidental ejection seat activation during pre-flight checks on his stationary RAF Hawk aircraft.

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