By Jill Laster - Staff writer
Air Force Times
Posted: Wednesday Jan 11, 2012 15:57:50 EST
Pilot inexperience and a malfunctioning warning system contributed to an A-10C crash last year that destroyed the aircraft and resulted in $150,000 in environmental damage, an Air Force investigation has found.
The Sept. 26 crash occurred about 20 miles northwest of Moody Air Force Base, Ga., during a functional check flight, which tests an aircraft's airworthiness after major maintenance. The pilot ejected safely from the aircraft before the $14.7-million Warthog was destroyed.
Investigators found several incidents culminated in dual-engine failure and the aircraft's subsequent crash.
For one, the pilot was inexperienced at flying over 23,000 feet, according to the accident report released Wednesday. A warning system within the aircraft also malfunctioned, and the checks the pilot conducted at about 35,000 feet weren't required by any sort of guidance.
"The cause of the mishap was the [A-10C's] engines flaming out due to being flown under conditions where aircraft stall and engine failure were imminent," the report states.
Investigators found that the pilot acted in a way that was logical and appropriate during the accident.
The pilot faces administrative action, however, because a toxicology screening after the crash found the presence of amphetamines consistent with "go pills," used to keep pilots awake and alert during long flights.
The presence of amphetamines in the pilot's system isn't believed to have contributed to the crash.
First Lt. Chelsey Garrison, a Moody spokeswoman, said that "appropriate administrative action will be taken" because of the results of the toxicology screening. She declined to release the pilot's name, citing Air Force regulations.
Problems began when the pilot reached 15,000 feet and the aircraft's stall warning system malfunctioned. Although that meant that the pilot couldn't hear stall warning tones, no explicit guidance kept him from stopping the flight, and he proceeded.
He conducted high altitude checks at about 34,000 feet, but noticed the aircraft entering a stall with a slight right bank. He then noticed that both engine gauges were winding down and tried to recover the engines, which ultimately failed.
"The [pilot] attempted to restart the left and right engines multiple times without success," according to the accident investigation board report. "He continued his attempts until reaching an unpopulated area and ejected from the [aircraft]."
The engines had flamed out and failed to restart because of engine seizure, which kept the engines from rotating and starting, according to the report.
The report faulted training for not putting enough emphasis on high-altitude aircraft- or engine-stall possibilities. Because the pilot hadn't received the techniques to accomplish high-altitude checks, the report states, he was ill-prepared for the mishap scenario.
"Therefore, at 34,000 feet, the [pilot] was unaware he was operating the [aircraft] in an envelope where aircraft stall and engine failure were imminent," according to the report.
Please note: Because this news article includes some more details, including a PDF of the report, let me post this news article separately. The full PDF will be published ASAP.