OTTAWA --– A new report on the single-engine F-35 has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
“One Dead Pilot” was written by University of British Columbia political science professor Michael Byers, who recently won the $50,000 Donner Prize for his book International Law and the Arctic.
The report responds to the Harper government's continued openness to the F-35 as a replacement for Canada's aging fleet of CF-18 fighter jets. With the exception of the F-35, all the aircraft currently under consideration have two engines.
As Professor Byers explains, this difference has significant safety implications, particularly for pilots operating over Canada's Arctic and vast maritime zones: "A decision to purchase a single-engine fighter would almost inevitably result in the needless loss of Canadian pilots."
Thirty-five years ago, the CF-18's twin engines were a decisive factor in its selection over the single-engine F-16.
Today, the Harper government maintains that improvements in the reliability of engines mean that single-engine aircraft are just as safe as twin-engine aircraft.
Professor Byers' report includes recent statistics from the U.S. Air Force Safety Center that disprove this assertion. The number of accidents leading to the loss of a pilot and/or aircraft remains significantly higher for single-engine fighter jets than for twin-engine fighter jets.
According to the report, the risks associated with a single-engine aircraft are compounded by Canada's challenging geography – including the remote Arctic and the world's longest coastline – as well as a near-broken search-and-rescue system. As Professor Byers explains, "A pilot forced to eject after a loss of power in the Arctic might have just a few hours to live."
Click here for the full report (34 PDF pages) on the CCPA website.