58th Fighter Squadron F-35A crashes during night landing

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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spazsinbad

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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 03:11

Jeepers. A lot to take in there at one reading - what struck me (no pun intended) were the issues with canopy shards.

Also noted that it still is no joke to be landing ANYWHERE at night then throw in the GREEN GLOW and it ain't easier.

I guess this aircraft was not modified from original config - cause of mismatch between sim & aircraft or just a mismatch?

Cannot imagine why landing settings were that way - I guess for an initial approach setup but not for the final mile or so?

I'm not understanding about the 'oxygen on demand' breathing problem, I'll have to think about it. Can someone explain?

ACCIDENT REPORT: https://www.airforcemag.com/app/uploads ... Signed.pdf (0.9Mb)
Last edited by spazsinbad on 06 Oct 2020, 03:27, edited 2 times in total.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 03:23

Eglin has among the oldest F-35A's. Yet, I believe about a dozen are suppose to be transferred to the 65th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis AFB.


That said, sounds like the issue can be resolved with a software upgrade and additional pilot training. :|
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 03:40

I dunno spaz; the article is a bit of an unusual read. Hard to tell if it accurately captures what the mishap report said, in the context within which it was intended —to wit, the description of a landing 50kts fast as an ‘unauthorized maneuver.‘ Well, what if it was 10kts fast; is that ‘unauthorized’ also? The more important question is ‘why’ was he that fast. Landing 50kts fast in any fighter (or for that matter, ANY aircraft) is dangerous...really dangerous.

Other immediate question I have — was the landing impact so hard that it kept the weight-on-wheels logic triggered when the jet got airborne again?
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 03:46

Salute!

Funny, but I can't remember if the Viper HUD changed at night like the SLUF. The A-7 HUD display was a light grey at night. Maybe Outlaw can help here.

@ SPAZ.... Been waiting to see mention of "shards" upon ejecting. You eject thru the canopy in the beast!!! A ring of primacord or such goes around the edge of the canopy and supposedly enhances your "passage" thru the lexan or whatever. My understanding was the U.S. Marine Harrier mafia was responsible for that feature versus the Viper bubble design, which has had super results when departing the jet.

Talk about a tiring oxygen system, the VooDoo's was a constant slight overpressure and had to breath out harder than normal all the time. Supposedly, this was intended to be used with a pressure suit. Anyway, we simply relaxed and the oxygen came in all by itself. Then we had to forceably exhale. The coupla hours of pure oxygen resulted in delayed ear blocks as we purged the gas from our ear tissue. So we got used to valve salva in our sleep after night missions.

Not finished digesting the report, but the WOW switch changed a few things on the Viper flight control laws, as did having gear down. If you bounced the only change from the landing mode was the LEF's went back down versus 2 deg up and aileron interconnect function went back to normal versus "direct" command.

more after digesting the report, but I don't like what I am seeing so far.

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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 04:36

For sure there is a lot I don't know about 'regular landings for the F-35A'. Perhaps they also will switch to a more automated landing as in the F-35C? Ya gotta luv landing at Optimum Angle of Attack but it seems an initial approach setting was left ON because of 'snakes in the cockpit' - neva good. Go around and try again but hey I'm OK. R U? :roll:

'gums' said: "...Talk about a tiring oxygen system, the VooDoo's was a constant slight overpressure and had to breath out harder than normal all the time. Supposedly, this was intended to be used with a pressure suit. Anyway, we simply relaxed and the oxygen came in all by itself. Then we had to forceably exhale. The coupla hours of pure oxygen resulted in delayed ear blocks as we purged the gas from our ear tissue. So we got used to valve salva in our sleep after night missions...." Description accurate for the A-4 PURE OXYGEN UNDER PRESSURE system (the Kiwis quickly changed their A-4K to one that included cabin air via a different mask (similar to the Sea Venom/Macch MB326H IIRC). The joy of midnight VALSALVAs. One could always tell who were the A4G pilots having flown that day. Every so often they VALSALVAed. 8)

My first A4G flight was in back of a TA4G as just a passenger with no idea really about anything so opening my mouth to acknowledge the front seat pilot was a shock. Nearly drowned in the pure oxy under pressure but from thence 'speak like a fighta pilote - short sharp whilst breathing out slightly. I can make fun of this situation even today - good for hangovers.
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 05:12

quicksilver wrote:I dunno spaz; the article is a bit of an unusual read. Hard to tell if it accurately captures what the mishap report said, in the context within which it was intended —to wit, the description of a landing 50kts fast as an ‘unauthorized maneuver.‘ Well, what if it was 10kts fast; is that ‘unauthorized’ also? The more important question is ‘why’ was he that fast. Landing 50kts fast in any fighter (or for that matter, ANY aircraft) is dangerous...really dangerous.

Other immediate question I have — was the landing impact so hard that it kept the weight-on-wheels logic triggered when the jet got airborne again?


Per the AIB, he was an F-15E driver who brought some very bad habits with him. And he was tired.
And stressed out about COVID. Yes..those things are in the report.
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 05:40

Yeah, those Harrier guys... :roll:

I will dare speculate and say that rather than ‘Harrier mafia’ ( :roll: ), a robust set of engineering processes determined that the best way to get a pilot out of a jet at very low altitude and very slow airspeeds (while meeting the most demanding set of anthropometric and performance envelope requirements ever) was to get the transparency out of the way as rapidly as possible. Seems the ‘transparency fracturing system’ in the canopy utilizes a det cord pattern to achieve that end.

Frankly, what design they use to make the ejection system work falls into the ‘who cares...as long as it works — successfully’ category. I don’t know anyone who sees it much differently.
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 05:44

A good description from the accident report in BOLD describes a night carrier approach: "...The MP described having to point into the black abyss, referring to how the area in front of the runway appeared at night . The discomfort for the MP was aggravated by the lack of visual cues at night and particularly because of the low illumination. The MP never cross-checked his airspeed or Angle of Attack (AOA) during the approach and touch down, meaning he did not look at the AOA and airspeed indicators to verify they were appropriate for landing [jeepers]. Additionally throughout the descent, the HMD projector brightness, or “green glow,” that projects over the Field of Regard of the HMD, was increasingly distracting throughout the descent despite the MP manually adjusting brightness levels on final approach...."
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 09:15

There is a tonne of detail in the accident report along with a description of the 'landing technique' but SHIRLEY one needs to check airspeed/AoA every now and then? Meanwhile here is the description of the oxygen system which has a 'closed feedback' system which I do not fully comprehend making it slightly different I guess to my experience of a similar system.
"Fixation: is a factor when the individual is focusing all conscious attention on a limited number of environmental cues to the exclusion of others. The MP was fixated on the faulty symbology of the HMD at a critical phase of flight to the exclusion of a crosscheck of either AOA or airspeed...."

"...the nighttime ILS approach contributed to the over-saturation. According to the MP and other witnesses, landing an F-35 at nighttime is not a mundane task, and is more difficult than a nighttime ILS landing in some of the legacy fighter aircraft...."

"...the Mishap Pilot noted that he usually feels more fatigued in the process of flying this aircraft than his previous aircraft, the F-15E. It is known amongst the F-35 flying community that the oxygen delivery system is very different than legacy oxygen delivery systems, such as the one used in the F-15E. It is a closed, feedback driven system, such that initiation of inhalation and exhalation actuate the delivery of airflow to the pilot with a slight change in pressure. The pilot will experience, often imperceptibly, a delivered pressure of .01-.03 pounds per square inch, even when trying to exhale. This means the pilot is breathing out against a pressure gradient. Additionally, the feedback is initiated by the sensed change in pressure of the pilot by the system: each breath in and out is sensed and augmented by the feedback system. However, this augmentation is not instantaneous, such that the pilot is subjected to slight delays in the pressure change delivered by the system with each breath in and out. These features inherent to the F-35 closed feedback system cause many pilots across the F-35 platform to report feeling more fatigued than normal, when compared to their prior legacy aircraft. This insidious increase in physical demand can translate into a degree of cognitive degradation. On the night of the mishap, the MP reported feeling 50% more drained than a similar prior sortie, with a score on a cognitive degradation scale of a six out of ten versus his baseline of a four out of ten for a routine sortie...."
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 10:09

This is perplexing as the F-35 has been reported over and over again. As so easy to fly and operate. That the pilot can focus on the mission.......


Is this possibly related to the age and early block of the aircraft??? (assuming that is the case) :|
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 11:12

IIRC it is/was an LRIP6 aircraft so IIRC it had not been updated, especially HMDS view correction facility. Then throw in some other holes in the Swiss Cheese so that they all line up. You should read the accident report PDF as best you can to get ideas about how things can happen so that ANY aircraft can become difficult to fly. Some fundamental errors were made (landing too fast) by using a faulty technique - partly. You really should read the report. Many factors are explained in this report.

These days it seems pilots do not get so much flight time especially at night - it is difficult to fly at night compared to daytime flying. One cure for this pilot's problems was for him to 'go around again' but this alternative is not explained /mentioned. IF a pilot cannot look at KIAS once during a landing approach there is something wrong with technique.
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 11:55

The issues with the HMD were highlighted in a Heritage Foundation report circa 2019, seems quite prescient now....

Unfortunately, the HMDS has not yet lived up to that potential. The daytime situational awareness and targeting capability that the HMDS offers is a game changer, but almost every pilot interviewed complained that the HMDS has significant issues that unnecessarily complicate otherwise administrative or mundane chores in a night environment.

Many of the tasks associated with employing fighters at night are considered routine—even pedestrian by the standards of the profession. Taking off and landing, flying formation, even air-to-air refueling at night are so well practiced that they are considered the equivalent of a walk in the park for the average fighter pilot. Hundreds of repetitions refine hand-eye coordination to a point where pilots are so comfortable with those tasks that they execute them while sharing their attention with other, often much more complex, issues. During combat ops, for example, many pilots will continue to listen to the active employment (radio) frequency in order to build or maintain their situational awareness on the battlefield while they are on the tanker boom, actively receiving fuel. That ability changes considerably when visual acuity drops in bad weather, or when a critical system fails or begins to perform below standard. Depending on the severity, those situations can test a pilot’s every faculty.

The F-35A’s HMDS was designed to simplify combat employment at night by blending the inputs from the night vision camera (NVC) and the DAS, along with the data normally projected on the HUD, such as airspeed, flight attitude, and weapons systems displays. Unfortunately, night system interface issues within the HMDS have made many mundane tasks so challenging that, in many cases, they become all consuming. A majority of the experienced pilots interviewed spoke of those problems, with some going so far as to say that they considered air-to-air refueling or “tanking” a near-emergency procedure. An F-16 Weapons Instructor Course (WIC) graduate with several hundred hours in the F-35A said: “Tanking at night gets my full attention and there are times where the visuals get really disorienting. Fixing the HMDS is an urgent operational need.” A former A-10 instructor with equal time in the F-35A went on to say: “On several occasions, the double vision the system projected on to my visor was so bad that I had to close one eye to get on the ground [land] safely.”

The HMDS has significant issues that unnecessarily complicate otherwise administrative tasks in a night environment, and fixing this system is an urgent operational need.


Source: https://www.heritage.org/defense/report ... -the-world
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 13:27

“The issues with the HMD were highlighted in a Heritage Foundation report circa 2019, seems quite prescient now...“

x2

Talking to pilots, I was surprised very early-on to learn that the optics are not pilot-adjustable pre- or in-flight the way that goggles have been i.e — IPD, tilt etc — for decades. Istr it had to do w weight — which I fully understand, but hope might be addressed in the future.
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 13:57

Salute!

I agree with Quick about having the best system for the envisioned flight condition. OTOH, seems to me that a zero-zero system that has been tested with line pilots more than a few times would have satisfied the requirement.

Would be nice to have the flight control system Appendix that is mentioned over and over in the report ( not the magazine reference but the actual report I downloaded from that link). Just the mention of a "bounce" control law is interesting. So there must have been a few episodes during the test program, ya think? Viper "CLAW" changed as I said if WOW activated briefly, but gains and control surface movement did not change a lot until gear was up. The biggest change was going from airborne gains to ground/rollout gains. Basically, with WOW you moved the ailerons and stabs directly according to stick force. Just like a RC model airplane system - electric signal commanded servoactuator with no consideration of speed/Q .

My only experience with going back and forth was with a student putting in a pitch input just at touchdown or slightly before. So we went from landing gains to WOW laws and things got interesting. He was coming from a slatted "E" F-4 and had used his technique for many landings. Due to the Viper family model stick force implementation I could not feel his inputs and we worked it out after a debrief or two. Basically, don't move the stick a lot, if at all, in the end game. That was one reason I did not like trying to grease it on but accept a "firm" touch.

BTW, the approach from over the bay at night is like landing on a boat. A coupla lights off to the right from Val-P, but your basic black hole. Look at a sat pic. RWY 35 at The Beach was same, but we had a few more lights along the coast than at Eglin. It's when you appreciate a HUD flight patch marker to go along with your ILS bars.

Finally, I have a great war story about AoA verus airspeed for the approach. It may be relevant to this accident, but has a good lesson for newbies.
---------------------

Several things from the report I do not appreciate, and will address those later.

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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 16:26

Always like to read your 'war stories' 'GUMS' so "PLAIN SPEAKIN'" away sir. Aircraft approaches are my bag. I've commented before about being a pain in the BUTT to ATC for my fascination with various landings, practicing them to their ad nauseam. That is one of the most fun parts of jet flying AFAIK that a naval pilot needs to be good at it would be obvious.

Thanks for the link to the HERITAGE Foundation report story 'operaaperta'. I don't recall reading the PDF - will do so now.

https://www.heritage.org/sites/default/ ... BG3406.pdf (0.7Mb) The report is online in full here:

https://www.heritage.org/defense/report ... -the-world

REPORT first cited by 'blain': viewtopic.php?f=58&t=55511&p=419427&hilit=BG3406#p419427
:roll: & I NEVA got around to reading it :oops: viewtopic.php?f=58&t=55511&p=420167&hilit=reading#p420167 :doh:
The F-35A Fighter Is the Most Dominant and Lethal Multi-Role Weapons System in the World: Now Is the Time to Ramp Up Production
14 May 2019 John Venable

"Abstract
The U.S. Air Force’s first F-35A fighter wing is now fully operational. The road to this point has been filled with insights on the aircraft, simulator, maintenance and logistical support, and operations that will apply to any service or nation flying the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). This assessment is based on interviews with 30 F-35A combat pilots as well as senior operations and maintenance leaders at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. It follows a similar assessment from 2016 of 31 other highly experienced former fourth-generation fighter pilots, who were then flying the F-35A at two other Air Force locations. The collective perspectives confirm that, while the JSF is still several years away from realizing its full potential, even now, the F-35A is the most dominant and lethal multi-role aircraft in the world."

Source: https://www.heritage.org/sites/default/ ... BG3406.pdf (0.7Mb)
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