March 6, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Poor maintenance caused the crash of a RoKAF F-16 off the west coast last month, the South Korean Air Force said Monday.
RoKAF F-16C block 52 #93-4053 from the 155th FS
The KF-16 (#93-4053
) went down into the West Sea during a training mission near a shooting range in Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province on Feb. 13. The pilot safely ejected just before the crash and was rescued.
"After examining the engine of the fighter jet, we concluded the cause of the accident was a maintenance problem," said an investigative team consisting of 13 people from the Air Force and four from Pratt & Whitney, the producer of the engine.
Mechanics did not replace cover plates of the engine with new ones when they last repaired the plane in 2004, a breach of the Time Compliance Technical Orders (TCTO
), a method used throughout the Air Force to implement aircraft hardware changes, the team said in a news conference.
Fragments from a broken cover plate damaged and stopped the engine during the flight, it said.
This latest crash brings the total number of written-off KF-16s to four. Two crashed in 1997 with another in February 2002. The causes of those previous three accidents were all proved to be engine problems.
completed production of the 140th KF-16 in 2004 as part of $5.5 billion contract run as a joint venture by state-run Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Lockheed Martin.