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Fri, Sep 09, 2016

Thunderbirds Accident Investigation At Three Months And Counting

Such Probes Normally Take About A Month, According To USAF Guidelines

Air Force Officials are still working to determine what when wrong when a Thunderbirds F-16 went down during graduation exercises at the Air Force Academy in June.

The Air Force normally completes such investigations in a month, according to the service's internal guidelines. But the McClatchy news service reports that the Air Combat Command, which includes the demonstration team, said that the the complexity of the probe has made sticking to that timeline impossible.

Air Force regulations do allow for more time for accident investigations if warranted. Melissa Walther, a spokeswoman for ACC at Langley AFB in Virginia, said "There's a lot involved in this. The lack of definitive timeframe reflects our commitment to explore all possible evidence to come to the correct conclusions, so we can use that information to prevent further incidents," she said. "We take these boards incredibly seriously and want to find that "ah-ha" moment of why something happened as much as the next person."

The pilot of the airplane, Maj. Alex Turner, reported engine trouble to air traffic controllers during the display. The FAA released a recording in which Turner said the engine "suddenly cycled the engine off and on in the descent," he said, and then a few moments later, he said he was ejecting. "I'm putting it away from somebody's house here ... I'm getting out," he told controllers.

The accident briefly grounded the team, but they were flying again later in June with Taylor continuing to perform.

(Image from file)

FMI: www.acc.af.mil

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