April 11, 2013 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A series of pilot errors resulted in an F-16 (#87-0315 ) crashing in remote eastern California during a December training mission, according to an Air Force report released Tuesday.
USAF F-16C block 30 #87-0315 as seen in better times during training sortie on April 14, 2007.
The pilot's failure to recover the aircraft from an inverted stall, complacency and errors in applying recovery procedures led to an F-16C Fighting Falcon crash Dec. 27, 2012
, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released on Tuesday. The aircraft departed controlled flight during a training mission, and crashed on government land approximately 84 nautical miles east of Fresno, Calif.
The aircraft belonged to the 144th Fighter Wing stationed at Fresno Air National Guard Base and was operated by the 194th Fighter Squadron
. The pilot, also assigned to the 194th FS
, participated in an air-to-air training mission.
According to the results of the accident investigation, the pilot failed to properly recover the aircraft from a high-pitch, low airspeed state, resulting in an inverted deep stall. In addition, the pilot failed to properly apply out-of-control recovery procedures and was unable to recover the aircraft before ejection.
The board president found three human factors primarily responsible for the accident:
- complacency evident throughout the entire flight;
- pressing the equipment beyond reasonable limits;
- and procedural error in the last few minutes of flight.
Based on the evidence, the board president also found other human factors that substantially contributed to the accident: lack of discipline, improper seating and restraints, sensory illusions, unrecognized spatial disorientation, channelized attention, and error due to disorientation.
The accident aircraft was destroyed upon impact with a loss valued at approximately $21.4 million. There were no military or civilian personnel injured, and there was only superficial landscape damage to government property.