The crew of a Finnish air force Boeing F-18D escaped without life-threatening injuries when their recently restored aircraft crashed during a training flight on 21 January.

The Finnish air force says the pilots ejected from an altitude of around 14,800ft (4,500m), with the aircraft having then crashed in a field in a sparsely populated area near the town of Juupajoki, around 175km (95nm) north of Helsinki.

Finnish F-18D crash site - Finnish air force 

Finnish F-18D crash rescue - Finnish air force

Both images © Finnish air force

Both pilots were recovered by rescue helicopter (Copterline Eurocopter EC135 OH-HCO pictured above) and flown to hospital to receive medical treatment.

Service sources later told local media that the aircraft was believed to have lost control after going into a tail slide following a high-speed dive.

The loss was the second mishap to have involved aircraft HN-468 inside a decade. The two-seat trainer had been badly damaged in a mid-air collision with a Finnish F-18C in November 2001, and had been returned to flight only last month (below) after a major rebuild programme performed by Patria.

 F-18D Finland - Finnish air force
© Finnish air force

Nicknamed the "Frankenhornet", it had returned to flight status on 3 December 2009, following the completion of a roughly 100,000h programme to bring it back to operational use.

Patria repaired the aircraft using structures sourced from a damaged F-18C, with major activities having included fitting a new starboard wing, engine intake and control surfaces, and making repairs to the aircraft's centre fuselage longeron.

 F-18D modifications - Patria

© Patria
HN-468's rebuild had taken over 100,000 man hours to complete

The air force has appointed a committee to investigate the cause of the accident, and says its work "will take months to complete".

Finland has an active fleet of 62 F-18s, including seven two-seat trainers and 55 single-seat fighters, according to Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.

Source: Flight International