August 23, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A maintenance crew's failure to put seals on an engine part caused an F-16D to crash into a Charleston marsh April 18, according to an Air Force report released today.
USAF F-16D block 50 #91-0469 from 78 FS taking off from Nellis AB for attending the Red Flag 01-03 session equipped with a loadout of AIM-9, AIM-120 and AGM-88 missiles. [Tailslides
photo by Peter]
The pilot and the passenger ejected from the aircraft (#91-0469
) and sustained minor injuries. The aircraft, assigned to Shaw AFB
's 20th Fighter Wing, was destroyed on impact.
According to the Accident Investigation Board report, the high-pressure turbine rotor in the engine failed, resulting in a significant loss of thrust. The pilot attempted three engine restarts while maneuvering for a straight-in flameout approach to the runway at Charleston AFB. When he realized the aircraft might be unable to safely reach the runway, he steered it toward the unpopulated marshland and initiated a successful dual ejection.
The report says the seals should have been put on the blades about a year before the crash. Base spokesman Lieutenant Bryan Cox says without the seals, excess heat built up in the engine, causing the metal to become brittle.
Cox says the report will be sent to the maintenance unit commander, who will decide whether to discipline any of the workers involved.