The US Navy has confirmed an instructor and student pilot dead after a T-45 Goshawk trainer crashed in Tennessee Sunday night.

The service reported the trainer aircraft missing after the T-45 departed from Knoxville, Tennessee for NAS Meridian, Mississippi on Sunday.

At about 6 p.m. 1 October, NAS Meridian received reports of a jet crash near Tellico Plains, Tennessee, about 112km (70mi) south of Knoxville. The training wing had a T-45C flying near Tellico Plains that had not returned to the air station, the navy says in a 2 October statement.

The service dispatched investigators to the crash site the morning of 2 October to determine whether the jet belonged to the navy, a service spokeswoman tells FlightGlobal. The navy is opening an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

The crash comes just after USN officials announced last week that its trainer fleet has resumed regular flights following a five-month grounding caused by contamination concerns over the system that generates and supplies oxygen to the training jet's pilots. The navy has no plans right now to ground the entire fleet again, although squadron seven at Meridian is standing down its jets today, a navy spokeswoman says. The service will consider oxygen issues in its investigation.

“It’s something we’re going to have to look into,” she says. “There are many possibilities.”

The training flight en route to Meridian was flying at low altitudes, which may not have required the instructor and student pilots to use the on-board oxygen generating systems (OBOGS), previously a cause of concern for the service. A navy spokeswoman could not confirm whether the aircrew was using the OBOGS and it could be several weeks before the service can make a determination.