RSAF trainee injured in US crash

A Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) trainee was injured when the plane he was in crash landed on a runway in Florida on Monday morning.

Lieutenant Ephraim Lu ZhenYang, 31, who is in the US for a Weapon Systems Officer (Fighter) Course, was on a routine flight in the back seat of a two-seater jet trainer piloted by a US Navy instructor when it crash landed.

Both crew members were injured in the landing on the runway at the Naval Air Station Pensacola at 10.30am (US Eastern Time, 12.30am Singapore time.

Lt Lu suffered fractures in his ribs and left arm, but is conscious and in a stable condition. The pilot's injuries were not disclosed.

A Mindef spokesman said that Lt Lu is undergoing treatment at a local hospital and the RSAF is assisting his family. The cause of the crash is being investigated by the US Navy, the spokesman said.

Navy Lt John Supple, a US Chief of Naval Air Training Command spokesman, told local reporters he could not speculate on whether the crash was the result of mechanical error or human error.


All training operations at the airfield were temporarily halted after the incident, reported local newspaper Pensacola News Journal.

The plane, a T-45C Goshawk, is a US$22 million (S$27.3 million) jet trainer first developed by Boeing in 1997. It is used to train US Navy pilots and flight officers.

While it is not known what caused the plane to crash, the fact that they landed on the runway probably made a huge difference.

A Singapore Youth Flying Club instructor with more than 30 years of flight experience in both jet and propeller aircraft said that for a pilot, the lack of landing options is the one of the most dangerous part of forced landing.

There are proper procedures that a pilot must know, he said.

He said: "The pilot must first try to identify and mitigate the problem, but when that fails, he must make a distress call and quickly find a suitable place to land, such as a runway or a highway road."

"Practising how to handle crash landings are an important requirement for any pilot," he said.

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