The Breitling Jet Team lost the number two Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros this weekend after an apparent engine problem, which prompted pilot Bernard Charbonnel and technician Raphael Savoye to eject safely from the airplane. The incident occurred while the team was repositioning the airplanes from Den Helder, Netherlands to Kleine Brogel, Belgium.
“When we were returning from Van Helder and I felt unusual vibrations, I realized very quickly something was wrong and reported an engine problem,” said Charbonnel, in a Breitling Jet Team news release. “We followed the emergency procedures by the book and my technician ejected at 2,000 feet and myself at 1,500 feet at approximate speeds of 250 to 300 km/hour.”
Before ejecting, Charbonnel had directed the airplane to an empty field, according to the news release. “I am very proud of my team, their expertise and experience is second to none,” said team leader Jacques Bothelin. “With the timing from first vibrations to ejection being less than one minute, Charbo executed everything with cool professional airmanship.”
Charbonnel and Savoy underwent precautionary checks at a nearby hospital before returning to the team and Charbonnel flew another L-39 back to Dijon on Monday after the team agreed to cancel two upcoming shows.
The remaining L-39s will undergo “extensive checks and examinations” before returning to service, according to the Breitling Jet Team release.