NEWS 2003


Officials release F-16 accident report

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Air Force investigators have determined trapped external fuel because of an aircraft malfunction and the pilot’s failure to properly monitor his fuel status were the causes of an F-16 Fighting Falcon crash in Iraq on June 12.

The aircraft was assigned to the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and deployed from the 421st Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

The pilot had been flying a close-air support mission when, after more than five hours into the mission, the aircraft engine failed. The pilot ejected safely. The aircraft was destroyed with an estimated value of $26.8 million. There was no other damage to military or civilian property.

According to the Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Report released Dec. 4, the trapped fuel was caused by one of three things. It was either a malfunctioning external vent and pressurization valve, a combination of a malfunctioning right external refuel/transfer shutoff valve and malfunctioning external fuel transfer override float switch, or a malfunctioning external fuel transfer override relay.

Investigators found that the engine’s power loss was because of fuel starvation. The pilot failed to notice the fuel on the aircraft was trapped in the external tanks. Additionally, he failed to follow checklist procedures and to properly prioritize fuel checks throughout the flight. (Courtesy of ACC News Service)

Turbine blade caused June F-16 crash

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Air Force officials determined a manufacturing defect of a turbine blade caused an F-16 Fighting Falcon to crash June 10 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

In the recently released accident-investigation report, the board determined the crash was caused by a manufacturing defect in Blade 1 of the 4th stage low-pressure turbine of the engine.

The blade failure caused a chain of events that destroyed the engine, according to the report.

Capt. David O’Malley, the pilot of the mishap aircraft assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron, was the lead of a two-ship formation flying a close-air support training mission. The mission included simulated bombing attacks and low-angle strafing on the Gila Bend Auxiliary Airfield. He was performing low-altitude bomb training when he felt a vibration underneath him, heard a “bang” and then a grinding noise coming from the engine.

In response, he made the aircraft climb and attempted two engine restarts.

When his wingman reported the aircraft had fire coming out the aft end, O’Malley ejected. The F-16, which was assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, crashed on Bureau of Land Management property about 12 nautical miles northwest of Gila Bend.

A Native Air Ambulance helicopter crew flew O’Malley back to base. There he was examined by a flight surgeon and released. (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)

Guard F-16 crashes in Louisiana

ELLINGTON FIELD, Texas (AFPN) -- A Texas Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed during a routine training mission Sept. 22. The crash occurred in a wooded area approximately 200 miles northeast of Houston, near Rosepine, La.

The pilot ejected safely and no one was injured on the ground.

A search and rescue team from Fort Polk, La., responded to the crash and retrieved the pilot, who was treated for minor injuries and released by the 147th Fighter Wing flight surgeon here.

"Because of the cooperation between military and local law enforcement authorities, we were able to rescue the pilot and secure the crash site for the investigation,” said Col. Lanny McNeely, 147th Fighter Wing commander. “We hope the investigation will help us ensure this type of accident doesn’t happen again.”

This is the second F-16 crash in the unit’s history with the last crash occurring in 1989.

Bird strike likely cause of crash

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Air Force investigators determined an F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed after at least one Spot-billed Duck was ingested into the engine, resulting in catastrophic engine failure, according to a report released Sept. 18.

The May 29 crash happened off the end of the runway at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

The mishap pilot was the wingman in a two-ship formation on a night-training mission at the time of the accident. The pilot and a Korean on the ground were slightly injured in the crash.

According to the report, shortly after taking off, the pilot said he saw a grayish object flash in front of him followed by a loud band and an apparent fire in front of his aircraft. The pilot then experienced severe deceleration causing him to be thrown forward in the cockpit. He initiated emergency procedures for an engine fire by raising the nose of his aircraft and releasing his external fuel tanks. After assessing that the engine was not responding properly to his throttle inputs, the pilot ejected safely approximately 12 seconds after liftoff. The aircraft was destroyed upon impact. (Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces News Service)

Thunderbird crashes at air show

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho (AFPN) -- An Air Force Thunderbird demonstration team aircraft crashed during an air show here Sept. 14.

The pilot, Capt. Chris Stricklin, ejected safely from his F-16 Fighting Falcon. He was treated and released by military medics.

The Thunderbirds are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. At the time of the accident, Stricklin was performing with the team as part of Mountain Home AFB’s air show, Gunfighter Skies 2003.

A board of officers will investigate the accident.

Kunsan F-16 crashes; pilot safe

KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFPN) -- An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot ejected safely before his aircraft crashed into the Yellow Sea about 56 miles southwest of here at 10:05 a.m. Sept. 9.

The pilot, Capt. Kevin Dydyk, was rescued by South Korean airmen in an HH-47 helicopter. Dydyk arrived here at noon and was reported in good condition at the 8th Medical Group clinic, officials said.

At the time of the accident, Dydyk, from the 35th Fighter Squadron, was on a training mission.

The cause of the accident will be investigated. (Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces News Service)

Luke officials ground F-16s

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFPN) -- Officials here grounded F-16 Fighting Falcons with certain type of engine July 2 after investigators of a June 10 crash found a fleet-wide engine-related problem.

The aircraft will be grounded until all aircraft with this type of engine have replacement parts installed, according to Col. Philip Breedlove, 56th Fighter Wing commander.

The crash occurred at the Barry M. Goldwater Range approximately 15 miles south of Gila Bend, Ariz. Capt. David O’Malley, an instructor pilot with the 310th Fighter Squadron, safely ejected from the aircraft while on a training mission. He has more than 1,000 flying hours in the F-16.

Second F-16 crashes in Arizona

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFPN) -- An F-16 Fighting Falcon based here crashed June 13 at about 9:30 a.m. on the Barry M. Goldwater Range about five miles south of Gila Bend.g

Capt. Scott Arbogast, an instructor pilot assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron here, safely ejected from the aircraft.

The mishap marks the second Luke F-16 crash this week at the Goldwater Range. On June 10 at about 5:15 p.m., Capt. David O’Malley, an instructor pilot with the 310th Fighter Squadron, safely ejected from his aircraft before it crashed about 15 miles south of Gila Bend.

Both pilots were flying air-to-ground training missions at the time of their mishaps.

Arbogast was taken to the hospital at Luke for examination and was reported in good condition. He has more than 1,100 flying hours in the F-16.

F-16 crashes in Arizona

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFPN) -- An Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon jet assigned here crashed about 5:15 p.m. June 10 on the Barry M. Goldwater Range approximately 15 miles south of Gila Bend.

Capt. David O’Malley, an instructor pilot with the 310th Fighter Squadron, safely ejected from the aircraft while on an air-to-ground training mission. He was examined at the base hospital and is reported to be in good condition.

The aircraft was carrying training ordnance.

O’Malley has more than 1,000 flying hours in the F-16 aircraft.

Modifications give F-16s new life

by 1st. Lt. Garrett Grochowski
Ogden Air Logistics Center Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFPN) -- America's premier multirole fighter is “slipping” into some tougher armor that promises to extend the aircraft's life by about eight years.

The F-16 Service Life Improvement Program modifications, better known as SLIP, are "all about extending these aircraft -- putting them back up to get more life out of them," said Gary Grivet, F-16 Fighting Falcon branch module chief.

SLIP began five years ago to repair cracks in high-stress, fracture-critical and potential-crack areas, Grivet said. These areas developed over time as stress on the airframe transferred to other areas after an earlier structural modification program, Falcon-Up, was started.

"’SLIP mod’ is the modification of the upper fuselage area, which beefs up the exterior of the aircraft where cracks have or may occur from years of wear and tear," said Grivet.

The modification replaces the old bulkheads with new composite metal bulkheads, the entire engine mount, fuel-tank panels and fasteners, as well as other structural components. From the time the aircraft arrives here, Grivet said it takes experts only 94 days to modify each aircraft, depending on what other modifications need to be done. .

When the aircraft comes in, Grivet said its fuel and engine have already been removed. It is then jacked up and stripped.

After structural mechanics accomplish their modifications, Grivet said F-16 branch technicians rebuild everything, putting it all back the way it was when the plane arrived.

"We reassemble it and then run it back through the fuel facility, where aircraft parts are checked for proper operation and any leaks," he said. "From there the Falcons are taken to flight test where the engine's put back in."

A lot of repairs F-16 branch experts do depend on what is found by both the aircraft's home unit and the team here. Some aircraft have more wear and tear because of number hours their units fly and the environment at the aircrafts' home base, such as humidity or salt in the air.

"The more high-tech you go the more complex a modification gets," Grivet said. "We have good mechanics, a lot of talented people, with a lot of experience on this airplane, which makes the job go really well and keeps us on schedule. (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)

Work continues at Osan crash site

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFPN) -- Base workers labored throughout the night surveying debris from the F-16 Fighting Falcon that crashed near a gate at approximately 8 p.m. May 29.

A pilot from the 36th Fighter Squadron was taking off on a training mission in the F-16 when the crash occurred. The aircraft was carrying inert bombs and a captive training missile when it crashed. The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and landed approximately 300 yards from the impact site.

An airfield manager on the runway was the first to reach the downed pilot. The pilot was taken to the 51st Medical Group emergency room where he was treated for minor arm bruises and released.

No facilities were damaged. A car and static displays of an F-86 Sabre and F-4 Phantom received minor damage. Base emergency response teams extinguished two small fires resulting from the crash.

On-scene workers retrieved the aircraft’s flight data recorder.

Even in bad news, good news arises, according to Col. Paul White, 51st Operations Group commander.

"In light of the crash and loss of aircraft, it's a success for the life-support and survival-equipment shops," he said. "At low altitude and high speed, the equipment worked as it is designed to, (helping the pilot survive)."

According to base officials, each pilot within Pacific Air Forces receives annual training on the ejection seat and life-support equipment.

"The pilots are taught on what to do after exiting the aircraft and man-seat separation occurs to improve their chances to survive," said Master Sgt. Christopher Moore, the superintendent of the 36th Fighter Squadron life-support section.

Moore said pilots go through training in a mock-up where they hang on a parachute harness and go through procedures to land safely.

"The swift actions of the pilot prevented any loss of life and minimized damage to base property," said Col. Gregg Sanders, 51st Fighter Wing vice commander.

Officials release F-16 accident report

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Air Force investigators determined that pilot error caused the crash of an Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon on the Utah Test and Training Range on Nov. 13.

According to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released April 7, investigators determined the primary cause of the crash was the pilot's loss of situational awareness, resulting from channelized attention and an optical illusion caused by unusual environmental conditions. Channelized attention occurs when the pilot focuses his attention exclusively on one element of the environment, unintentionally disregarding other important information.

The white salt flat covering the range was covered by two to three inches of clear, calm water that created a mirror between the ground and the sky. The mirror effect gave a pilot the illusion that he had unlimited maneuvering space when in fact his aircraft was close to the ground, according to investigators.

Lt. Col. Dillon L. McFarland died in the crash. The aircraft, which was assigned to the 466th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, was destroyed. The cost of the accident is estimated at $25.4 million. (Courtesy of ACC News Service)

ACC releases F-16 accident report

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Air Force investigators have determined engine failure caused an F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft to crash Sept. 11 during a basic surface attack training sortie.
The F-16C was destroyed upon impact 1,300 feet short of the runway at the Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport in Hattiesburg, Miss. The pilot ejected safely and sustained minor injuries.
The aircraft was assigned to the Alabama Air National Guard's 160th Fighter Squadron at Montgomery ANG Base, Ala.
According to an Air Combat Command accident investigation report released Feb. 19, the primary cause of the accident was the failure of the high-pressure turbine post, allowing the HPT blades to break free and damage the engine.

Edwards gets F-16s from 'bone yard'

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- Two F-16 Fighting Falcons joined the test operations facility here recently to help support flight test programs. The aircraft are the first of nine F-16s making their way to Edwards this year.

The aircraft arrived from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., where they were originally part of a deal to sell 28 F-16s to Pakistan. The agreement broke down after Pakistan violated the nuclear nonproliferation policy of the U.S. government and its allies, and the United States cancelled the sale. That left the aircraft in storage at Davis-Monthan for more than a decade. After several years of modifications and rebuilding, the aircraft made their way here.

The aircraft are late A and B models, versus the C and D models pilots routinely fly today. They were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s and are scheduled to replace some of the older F-16s in the Edwards' inventory, which will provide pilots with better capability and reliability, said Lt. Col. Troy Fontaine, commander of test operations here.

With only eight and 11 total flying hours respectively, the two aircraft will be used to support the 412th Maintenance Group shadow fleet. The aircraft will perform photo chase, high-alpha testing and test support missions for Edwards' various test forces. The jets will also be used to train students at the test pilot school.

According to Col. George Ka'iliwai, the school's commandant, the new aircraft are welcome additions to the busy flying schedule.

"These two additional F-16s will help the test pilot school graduate our students fully trained and on time," said Ka'iliwai. "Increasing the number of F-16s helps us ensure that these aircraft are available when we need them to meet our flying program requirements as well as test program requirements around the base."

Air Force officials will take 14 aircraft while the Navy will get 14 to be used as aggressor aircraft for training.


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