NTSB Cited Numerous Problems Led To AZ Crash
Bust-up one $8 million advanced unmanned aerial vehicle, and
you're toast. That's the word from officials with the US Customs
and Border Protection agency, which on Wednesday said the pilot in
command of a Predator B that crashed near Nogales, AZ in April 2006
was let go from CBP duty over the incident.
As ANN reported earlier this
week, the National Transportation Safety Board
determined the accident was likely due to the ground-based pilot's
failure to follow the checklist when switching control of the
aircraft to a new console, after his panel locked up. The error led
to the shut-down of the aircraft's fuel valve, leading to engine
The NTSB also noted the pilot -- a contractor, hired by Predator
manufacturer General Atomics -- was going through refresher
training at the time of the accident.
The fact he had control of an active Predator was a violation of
regulations, the Board determined; adding insult to injury, the
pilot's instructor was not present at the time.
Doug Koupash, acting program manager for the Predator B,
admitted mission directors likely failed to realize the pilot
shouldn't have been at the controls.
"What we probably didn't understand was that he was trying to do
the training while the mission was going on -- because that's a
no-no," Koupash said. He added the accident pilot still works at
General Atomics, but in another capacity.
"[S]o it's their call as to what to do with him," Koupash told
The Associated Press. "He said he ignored the checklist."
CBP began training its own pilots recently, he added. Prior to
now, all Predators flying for the CBP have been in the hands of
Overall, Koupash said, the NTSB's findings were in line with
what CBP investigators determined.