> our title:

USAF Releases Reports on 2 Reaper Crashes

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MQ-9 Reaper Accident Report Released

(Source: US Air Force; issued April 9, 2013)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. --- A series of errors led to the crash of an MQ-9 Reaper in an unpopulated area three miles northeast of Mount Irish, Douglas County, Nev., Dec. 5, 2012, according to an Air Combat Command Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board report released today.

When the accident occurred, the MQ-9 crew was flying a surveillance mission supporting the final exercise of the crew's curriculum at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. During the flight, the mishap pilot used a series of autopilot modes to control the aircraft toward the military airspace. When the pilot attempted to change the aircraft's altitude by taking the throttle position to less than fully forward, the misconfigured throttle commanded the aircraft engine to produce reverse thrust. The pilot perceived an engine problem and commanded the aircraft to return to base, during which time the aircraft decelerated below stall speed and crashed in an unpopulated area.

According to the report, prior to the mission, contract technicians improperly configured the Pilot/Sensor Operation station throttle quadrant settings in the Ground Control Station (GCS) when it was reconfigured from the MQ-1B Predator to the MQ-9 Dec. 4. Adjusting the throttle controls was necessary because the Reaper, unlike the
Predator, has a reverse-thrust capability activated by the throttle position. On the day of the mishap, the pilot conducting the pre-flight inspection did not execute all parts of the checklist required to identify that the throttle was functioning properly.

The Accident Investigation Board President therefore found by clear and convincing evidence that the causes of the mishap were:

1) prior to the flight, the throttle-quadrant settings were improperly configured during the reconfiguration of the GCS from MQ-1 to MQ-9 operations

2) this throttle change went unrecognized because the mishap pilot did not personally execute the checklists on his control rack prior to gaining control of the aircraft, and

3) the pilot stalled the aircraft due to an unrecognized, commanded reverse-thrust condition that existed whenever the pilot's throttle was at any position except fully forward.

Additionally, the AAIB found by a preponderance of evidence that the mishap pilot failed to execute his GCS preflight in accordance with technical order procedures, substantially contributing to the mishap.

At the time of the mishap, the aircraft and crew were assigned the 26th Weapons Squadron, 57th Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The GCS was maintained by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

The aircraft, one inert Guided Bomb Unit, a Hellfire training missile, a Mission Kit, and one M299 missile rail were destroyed. The loss is valued at approximately $9.6 million. There were no injuries or damage to other government or private property. (ends)

MQ-1B Predator Accident Report Released

(Source: US Air Force; issued April 9, 2013)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. --- Shortly after losing its satellite data link Sept. 18, 2012, an MQ-1 B Predator crashed in a U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released today.

Based on the limited recovered wreckage and other available evidence, the actual cause of the power loss could not be determined by clear and convincing evidence. The board president, however, stated it is possible the crash was preceded by a catastrophic power loss. Other possible causes were ruled out on the basis of the available evidence.

The mishap crew was assigned to the 432d Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The mishap remotely piloted aircraft was destroyed with a total loss valued at approximately $4.4 million. There were no injuries or damage to government or private property.

According to the Accident Investigation Board report, the mishap remotely piloted aircraft satellite data link disconnected. The mishap pilot ran the appropriate checklist, but was unsuccessful in re-establishing a satellite link. The mishap remotely piloted aircraft impacted approximately 3.25 nautical miles south-southwest of the point where the link was lost.

The accident investigation board president determined that evidence rules out anomalies with the ground control station, mishap crew, maintenance and weather.