The RAAF has suspended Pilatus PC-9/A flying after an engine fire on Monday night.
The fire took place as a 2FTS PC-9 prepared for a training flight from RAAF Pearce in Western Australia. A Defence spokesperson said both crew members were unharmed, as they immediately aborted takeoff and began shutdown procedures once flames were observed from the aircraft’s engine. The crew then advised air traffic control of the situation and fire services were dispatched.
Defence says the PC-9s have not been grounded, rather the RAAF has “temporarily paused planned flying” as it investigates the cause of the fire. “There are no indications of any safety issues unique to the PC-9/A fleet, either mechanically or culturally,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“Air Force has not yet determined if the cause of the incident at RAAF Pearce was an isolated occurrence. Air Force, in conjunction with Defence Material Organisation and the engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney Canada, are currently undertaking an inspection and investigation into the incident aircraft engine.”
Though suspended from flying, Defence has stated that 2FTS trainees will participate in other training activities while investigations are underway, and the incident is not expected to greatly interfere with flight training. “The temporary pause in planned flying activities will not affect long term training outcomes for pilots and crews,” the spokesperson said.
“Once the cause of the incident is known Air Force will determine any recommendations and actions required to return the PC-9/A aircraft to flying operations,” the spokesperson advised.
RAAF PC-9/As are operated by 2FTS at Pearce, 4SQN from Williamtown and the Central Flying School (CFS) at East Sale.