Sat, Dec 06, 2003
Mechanical Failure Caused Loss of Plane
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
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.
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