Air Force Instructor Pilot Killed by Accidental Activation of Ejection Seat on Ground

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WASHINGTON (AP) — An Air Force instructor pilot tragically died when the ejection seat of a T-6A Texan II aircraft activated unexpectedly while the jet was on the ground at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Air Force Instructor Pilot Killed by Accidental Activation of Ejection Seat on Ground
Air Force Instructor Pilot Killed by Accidental Activation of Ejection Seat on Ground

The incident occurred during ground operations on Monday, and the pilot was subsequently taken to a hospital, where they passed away on Tuesday. The pilot’s identity has not been disclosed, pending notification of their family.

The T-6A Texan II, a single-engine, two-seater aircraft, is a primary trainer for pilots in the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The aircraft is equipped with Martin-Baker ejection seats in both the front and back seats, which can be activated by pulling a handle on the seat.

This incident recalls a 2022 grounding of the T-6 fleet and other military jets after inspections revealed a potential defect in the ejection seat’s cartridge actuated devices (CADs). These CADs, which initiate the ejection sequence by exploding, were inspected and, in some cases, replaced.

While ejection seats have saved numerous lives, they have also failed at critical moments. For instance, the 2020 crash of an F-16 that killed 1st Lt. David Schmitz was partly attributed to an ejection seat failure. Conversely, in 2018, the crew of a B-1 bomber, facing an ejection seat malfunction during a fire, chose to land the aircraft rather than eject, resulting in the survival of all four crew members.

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