Air Force PC-9 planes grounded following cras


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19-05-2011 08:17 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


19-05-2011 08:17 AM



19-05-2011 08:52 AM

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2011-05-19 08:17:19

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CAVE, Peter





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Air Force PC-9 planes grounded following cras -

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Australia's entire fleet of PC-9 aircraft has been grounded, following a crash at East Sale Air
Force Base. The Defence Department has launched an investigation into the incident, which is the
third this year. The PC-9 is used in aerobatic displays.

PETER CAVE: Australia's entire fleet of PC-9 aircraft has been grounded, following a crash at East
Sale Air Force Base.

Two pilots had a lucky escape late yesterday, ejecting from their plane just moments before it went

The Defence Department suspects that engine failure was to blame and it's launched an
investigation, but as Anna Hipsley reports, it's the third incident involving the trainer aircraft
this year.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the Royal Australian Air Force aerobatic display
team, the Roulettes...

ANNA HIPSLEY: The PC-9 is a single-engine training aircraft, most familiar as part of the Air
Force's acrobatic display team, the Roulettes.

But it was a routine training flight that brought down one of the planes late yesterday.

It crashed one kilometre short of a runway at the RAAF base at Sale in eastern Victoria.

The two crew, a qualified flying instructor and a trainee instructor, ejected and are in a
satisfactory condition in hospital.

Defence says it's likely engine failure was the cause.

Andrew McLaughlin is deputy editor of Australian Aviation Magazine.

ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN: Well the engine the PC-9 uses is actually one the most common turboprop engines
in the world. It's used on thousands and thousands of turboprop aircraft.

And the PC-9s are due to be replaced in the next 10 years but there's never been a question about
their reliability or their service ability so this is unusual.

ANNA HIPSLEY: The Air Force has grounded the entire fleet of more than 60 planes while
investigations take place.

It's the third incident and second grounding for the PC-9s this year.

In February, the engine in a training plane caught fire at RAAF Base Pearce, just north of Perth.

Last month, two landing gear doors fell off one of the planes near Heyfield in eastern Victoria.

Retired Air Vice Marshall, Roxley McLennan is president of the RAAF Association and a 38 year
veteran of the Air Force.

He says the groundings don't necessarily mean there are serious safety concerns with the PC-9s.

ROXLEY MCLENNAN: The pause if you like in operations is generally the result of wanting to be
absolutely sure that the problem is understood and risks associated with it are properly understood
and that people are protected.

ANNA HIPSLEY: Is it unusual though that you have three separate incidents in a less than six month
period happening with the same model of plane?

ROXLEY MCLENNAN: Possibly it's unusual, but statistically you might have incidents that occur over
a period of time, unless those incidents are closely related you couldn't say that was
statistically significant.

ANNA HIPSLEY: The Air Force says the PC-9s won't fly again until it can guarantee the planes are

PETER CAVE: Anna Hipsley reporting.