> our title:

USAF Releases Predator Accident Report

> original title:

MQ-1B Predator Accident Report Released

(Source: US Air Force Air Combat Command; issued Jan. 6, 2014)


LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. --- An MQ-1B Predator turbocharger failure and wind gusts led to the crash of the aircraft at Jalalabad Air Base, Afghanistan, June 27, 2013, according to an Air Combat Command Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board report released today.

The remotely piloted aircraft was deployed from the 432d Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. When the accident occurred, the Launch and Recovery Element crew from the 62d Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron was flying a classified surveillance mission out of Jalalabad Air Base, Afghanistan. The aircraft and one air-to-ground AGM-114 Hellfire missile were destroyed on impact, with a loss valued at approximately $4.5 million. There were no injuries or damage to other government or private property.

According to the report, the crew noticed indications of a possible turbocharger failure during the mission, including a decrease in altitude and low airflow into the engine compared to the engine's revolutions per minute. The Mission Control Element Crew completed the appropriate checklist, and notified air traffic control that the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude. Roughly eight hours into the flight, the MCEC turned over control of the aircraft to the Launch and Recovery Element Crew, who initiated the aircraft's return to the landing airfield, and ran the appropriate checklists. The maintenance operations superintendent was in the ground control station, and agreed with the crew that the turbocharger was unresponsive and suspected of failure.

During the final approach for landing, the air traffic control tower reported wind gusts within operational guidelines. However, upon crossing the runway threshold, the aircraft experienced a strong gust of wind, which led the mishap pilot to deem the conditions no longer safe for landing. The pilot executed procedures for a go-around, but the aircraft was unable to sustain flight and impacted the ground at approximately 800 ft. past the departure end of the runway.

The Accident Investigation Board President found by clear and convincing evidence, the cause of the mishap was a combination of mechanical failure of the engine's turbocharger and gusty wind conditions during the attempted landing. Additionally, the board president found by a preponderance of evidence that insufficient technical guidance, operational acceptance of aircraft weight-waivers, and the decision to go-around substantially contributed to the mishap.

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