HUMAN ERROR, FEATHERED FOES LEAD TO F-16 CRASH
By AIR EDUCATION AND TRAINING COMMAND (AETCNS)
/ Published August 26, 2014
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- A pilot's decision-making error after suffering low-altitude bird strikes during takeoff led to the destruction of an F-16D Fighting Falcon at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., June 26, 2013, according to the recently released Air Force accident investigation board report.
The instructor pilot and student, assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing's 309th Fighter Squadron, were executing a planned touch- and-go training exercise when the aircraft's engine ingested at least three birds. This led to degraded engine performance.
Accident board investigators said the instructor pilot then erroneously elected to make an immediate turn that robbed the aircraft of altitude and airspeed, rather than climbing straight ahead to achieve minimum maneuvering speed for aircraft recovery. The instructor pilot's channelized attention and breakdown of visual scan limited the time to fully analyze the situation and successfully recover flight, the report said.
Both pilots safely ejected the aircraft, suffering only minor injuries. There were no fatalities or significant injuries, and only limited damage to civilian property. The estimated damage costs are nearly $22 million.