A C-101 Aviojet training aircraft belonging to the Patrulla Águila, the aerobatic team of the Spanish air force, crashed in the Mediterranean, near Murcia, during a training formation flight on February 27, 2020. The pilot did not survive.
“It was with great sadness that we learned this news. I offer my sincere condolences on my own behalf and on behalf of the government to the commander’s family and friends,” wrote the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, on his Twitter account.
That crash is uncannily similar to another one that took place less than six months ago. On August 26, 2019, another member of the Patrulla Águila had died while he was flying the same type of aircraft, in an accident that occurred under almost identical circumstances. Coincidentally, it appears that the commander that was killed in the second crash had been appointed to replace the one that died in the first as the #5, the soloist of Patrulla Águila.
The aerobatic patrol is based in San Javier, in the region of Murcia, along with the Academia General del Aire, the Spanish Air Force officers’ school. Pilots of the Patrulla Águila act there as instructors.
The C-101 Aviojet is a low-wing single-engine advanced trainer conceived by the Spanish manufacturer Construcciones Aeronáuticas Sociedad Anónima. It entered service in Spain in 1980, and is operated by four air forces around the world.
In June 2019, the Spanish government announced that €225 million would be allocated to find a replacement. No aircraft has yet been officially chosen. According to the local press, the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II and the Pilatus PC-21 are being considered.
In September 2019, an ENAER T-35C Pillán trainer aircraft of the Spanish Air Force crashed shortly after takeoff, near the coast of San Javier, southeastern Spain. The two occupants, an instructor and his trainee, died during the crash.