Navy training squadron pauses ops after 2 killed in crash

A squadron of T-45C Goshawk training aircraft has suspended flights after an aircraft belonging to the squadron crashed October 1 in Tennessee, killing a student pilot and an instructor.

Training Squadron 7, part of Training Air Wing One out of Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi, observed a stand-down October 2, Lt. Elizabeth Feaster, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Training, told Military.com.

Cmdr. Jason Gustin, commanding officer of the “Eagles” of Training Squadron 7, will determine October 3 whether the squadron needs to extend the stand-down further, she said.

Feaster said she is unaware of any broader actions being taken regarding Training Air Wing One or the Navy’s Goshawk fleet in light of the crash.

The T-45 went down before 6 p.m. in the Cherokee National Forest, roughly 45 miles southwest of Knoxville.

Navy officials arrived at the crash site Monday morning and confirmed the origin of the aircraft and that the two pilots, a student and instructor, did not survive.

Feaster said Navy officials had been en route to the site Sunday night, but emergency responders suspended search and rescue and blocked off the area after dark.

A spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, Terry McDonald, told Military.com that the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department had been first responders at the scene, with the U.S. Forest Service and Tennessee Wildlife Agency also contributing to disaster response efforts.

The executive officer of Training Squadron 7, Cmdr. Stephen Vitrella, visited the site Monday, Feaster said.

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The crash comes just after the Navy’s fleet of T-45s resumed normal operations. In April, all 170 of the service’s T-45s were grounded after instructor pilots complained about aircraft safety in light of a surge of hypoxia-like incidents.

Flights would resume the same month, but with strict altitude and G-force restrictions as a Navy team assessed possible causes of the “physiological episodes.”

In August, training flights finally resumed with new measures in place to measure air pressure and flow and cockpit contaminants.

Feaster told Military.com it is far too soon to indicate or rule out anything as a cause of Sunday’s crash. The chief of Naval Air Training, or CNATRA, is assembling the team that will investigate the tragedy, she said.

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