December 7, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A crash that destroyed a $19.2 million F-16 over the summer was caused by the failure of two quarter-inch bolts, Air Force inspectors said this week.
It's not known whether the bolts were defective or improperly tightened. The depot where the fasteners were installed is investigating.
The pilot, Maj. Robert P. Egan, ejected safely after another pilot radioed him and told him the plane was on fire.
Egan was on his way from Luke Air Force Base to the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range for maneuvers on July 23 when he heard an explosion.
The inner air seal that fastened a turbine came loose, causing the jet fighter's drive shaft to bend. The engine seized and fragments from the turbine pierced a fuel tank, igniting the fuel.
The crash, about 60 miles southwest of Luke, was the 10th crash of an F-16 flying out of Luke since October 1998.