January 30, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - Air Force Times have reported on the release of the Accident Investigation Board report on the July 2007 crash of an 13 EFS F-16 block 50 at Balad AB. The conclusion of the investigation blames low tyre pressure for the loss.
F-16C #92-3901 the aircraft lost in Iraq on July 15, 2007 photographed years earlier landing.
The Pacific Air Forces accident board concluded the crash of #92-3901
was primarily the fault of maintainers who failed to correctly inspect the jet’s front tyre.
"Accurate and truthful tyre pressure checks, coupled with more diligent nose tyre inspections, would have prevented this mishap," wrote board president Col. Brent A. Johnson of Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.
Investigators had found the front tyre had been replaced on the same day, but the maintenance crew failed to check the pressure on that tyre prior to jet going out on its mission, thus failing to notice the pressure was low.
The tyre failed as the plane reached speeds around 150 mph during its take off run and after it had cleared the arresting cable laid across the runway. The pilot said he heard a loud pop and felt the aircraft suddenly decelerate. He incorrectly concluded the jets engine had failed and decided to abort the take-off.
As the jet continued down the runway at some speed the front landing gear collapsed and F-16 became uncontrollable forcing the pilot to eject. Interesting fact was the pilot was the commander of the deployed squadron.
The F-16 skidded and rolled on for another 2,000 feet until it left the paved runway and tumbled end over end before coming to a halt upside down. As the plane burned, 20mm cannon rounds inside the jet cooked off and exploded.
Air Force firefighters from the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and Army firefighters from the 60th Ordnance Detachment, 1034th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion extinguished the resulting fire.
Investigators said if the pilot had correctly realized he had a front-tyre blow-out instead of an engine malfunction, he could have likely safely taken off. However, board president Col. Johnson said the abort decision was "reasonable" because a pilot's sensation of a tire failure and engine malfunction are much the same and that the pilot was concerned that if he did become airborne with a bad engine he might have faced ejecting over insurgent-controlled territory.