December 8, 2000 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Engine failure was the cause of a F-16C crash in the Atlantic Ocean Aug. 31, according to officials investigating the accident.
The pilot of the aircraft from the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, ejected from the aircraft and sustained only minor injuries. The aircraft was completely destroyed upon impact with the water 11 miles East/Southeast of the Atlantic City International Airport.
According to the Accident Investigation Board report released today by Air Combat Command, the pilot experienced a series of vibrations and immediate deceleration at approximately 16,000 feet on a training mission over the Atlantic Ocean. The engine compressor stalled and the oil pressure went to zero. He initiated emergency procedures and turned back towards the coast and the nearest landing field; however, weather at the airfield was not good enough for the required landing type and the engine could not produce enough thrust to divert to an alternate field. The pilot turned back out to sea to avoid ejecting over populated areas and ejected over water. He was picked up by rescue people less than 10 minutes later and was treated for minor injuries and released that evening from a local hospital.
The engine failure was caused by a turbine blade separating and causing damage to the oil system and other parts of the engine, according to investigating officials. This damage prevented the engine from producing enough thrust to reach an alternate landing site.