June 30, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A pilot's failure to follow standard F-16 operations procedures caused an F-16D to crash short of the runway at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., March 18, Air Force officials announced today.
16th WS F-16D #92-3927 wreckage from the crash at the end of the runway at Nellis AFB, Nevada. [Photo of KLAS-TV
The incident happened when the pilot, assigned to Nellis' 57th Wing, was returning to the base following an in flight emergency in which the throttle stuck in the afterburner mode. While preparing for a straight-in flame out approach, the engine stalled short of the runway, forcing the pilot to eject. He sustained only minor scratches on landing. The $22.7 million aircraft was destroyed on impact.
According to the Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report, the pilot failed to follow standard F-16 operations procedures by allowing items, including a large metal briefcase, to be strapped in the unoccupied rear cockpit seat. A maintenance specialist strapped these items in the rear seat, with the pilot's permission, just prior to initial engine start. The items shifted during takeoff and the briefcase jammed against the throttle in the full afterburner position.
There is also clear and convincing evidence the pilot did not properly respond to the stuck throttle condition. Once the pilot obtained altitude and airspeed within the F-16 Flight Manual flameout landing parameters, he did not maintain a position that would enable him to land the aircraft on the runway in the event the engine failed.
Military officials said the pilot was in instructor at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School based at Nellis. He had logged 1,481 hours in the F-16.