Aerial stunts by Brazil air force suspended after accident


Rio de Janeiro : The Brazilian air force has announced the provisional suspension of aerobatic shows by its Aerial Demonstrations Squadron after one of its planes crashed, killing the pilot.

Support TwoCircles

Shows by the group popularly known as the “Smoke Squadron” – because of the smoke the airplanes use to draw figures in the sky – will be suspended while investigations are underway to find out what caused Friday’s accident, the air force said Saturday.

The tragedy occurred late Friday afternoon in Lages, a city in the southern state of Santa Catarina, when six pilots of the squadron were putting on an aerobatic show for close to 10,000 onlookers to commemorate the anniversary of the local flying club.

One of the T-27 Tucano aircraft of the air force squadron crashed into the ground for unknown causes, and its pilot, Capt. Anderson Amaro Fernandes, was killed.

The body of the 33-year-old officer, who had almost 14 years of flying experience and who had taken part in 180 of the squadron’s air shows, was first taken to Pirassununga, a city in the central part of Sao Paulo state where the aerobatic squadron is based, but he will be buried in Fortaleza where his family lives.

Videos from the moment of the accident, filmed by fans watching the aerial stunts, have been broadcast repeatedly on Brazil’s television networks since Friday.

The accident is being investigated by military experts from the air force’s National Center for the Investigation and Prevention of Accidents, or Cenipa, which is not yet ready to say how long the investigations will last or for how long the air shows will be suspended.

According to the air force, the plane that crashed is a model made by Brazil’s Embraer that forms part of the military air fleets of such countries as Argentina, Colombia, France, Honduras, Iraq and Venezuela.

The last air accident suffered by the Aerial Demonstrations Squadron occurred in 2004, when two T-27s crashed in midair during a training session in Sao Paulo state, but on that occasion the pilots managed to escape.

The squadron, which began operations in 1952, has put on more than 3,000 aerobatic shows in Brazil and other countries, and is one of the main attractions of the military parades with which Brazil celebrates its independence every Sept. 7.

Its pilots must have more than 1,500 flying hours and have been trained at the air force’s academy.