Report: Fatal Snowbird Crash Caused By Seatbelt

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A Snowbird pilot who was killed during a practice in Montana last May fell from his seat when his lap belt became unfastened during a roll, according to a preliminary report from the Canadian Air Force Directorate of Flight Safety. The Tutor CT-114 jet was rolling inverted for an inverted photo pass in a four-ship formation when the aircraft was seen to dip low, waver and depart the formation. Still inverted, the aircraft climbed and then rolled upright. Upon reaching a nearly wings-level attitude, at about 750 feet above ground level, the aircraft nosed over. The aircraft hit the ground at approximately 45 degrees nose down. The pilot, Capt. Shawn McCaughey, 31, a two-year veteran of the team, did not eject and was killed on impact. The investigation is continuing, focusing on how the lap belt became unfastened. Preventive measures taken to date include modifications to the pilot-restraint system, as well as enhanced training for aircrew and passengers. New procedures, as well as changes to the aircraft operating instructions, have been implemented to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence, according to the Flight Safety Directorate report.