Dec 18, 2020

Air Force appoints Board of Inquiry into training aircraft crash

The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) on Tuesday appointed a five-member Board of Inquiry to investigate the crash of a training aircraft which resulted in the death of a cadet pilot, Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana said on Tuesday.

The board made up of aeronautical, technical and medical experts is expected to submit an interim report within a week. The SLAF has temporarily grounded all PT-6 aircraft in the fleet until the interim report is prepared, Air Marshal Pathirana added.

According to the SLAF, the PT-6 trainer aircraft from the No. 1 Flying Training Wing at China Bay crashed near the Janaranjana Tank in Sooriyapura, Kantale. It was flown by Officer Cadet Shalitha Amarakoon who was on a solo mission, departing China Bay Air Force Base at 1:05 p.m. and had lost radio contact with the control tower 10 minutes later. A Bell-212 helicopter with a search and rescue team had been scrambled to locate the missing aircraft, the Air Force said.

Residents of Sooriyapura had aided SLAF search and rescue personnel who flew Amarakoon to District Hospital in Trincomalee where he was pronounced dead on arrival, the Air Force said. Amarakoon had joined the Air Force in January 2019 and had begun flying training in July of the same year.

The Chinese built PT-6 aircraft was one of a batch six acquired to the SLAF in 2018, Air Marshal Pathirana added.