Losses and Aviation Safety

IMPROPER ASSEMBLY OF MAIN ENGINE CONTROL CAUSED F-16C CRASH AT JOINT BASE ANDREWS LAST APRIL

The pilot safely ejected and did not sustain any injuries, while the F-16C, valued at approximately $22 million, was destroyed

According to an Accident Investigation Board (AIB) report released on Oct. 26, 2017, improper assembly of the main engine control caused a F-16C to be destroyed upon impacting the ground southwest of Joint Base Andrews (JBA), Maryland, on Apr. 5, 2017.

The pilot safely ejected and did not sustain any injuries. The aircraft, valued at approximately $22 million, was destroyed.

The mishap occurred during a four aircraft F-16 formation on departure from JBA. The Vipers had to perform a basic surface attack training mission.

During the departure from JBA, the mishap aircraft experienced an uncommanded engine acceleration, followed by a loss of thrust. The pilot executed critical action procedures for a low altitude engine failure by jettisoning the external wing fuel tanks to decrease weight and increase glide distance.

The AIB found a preponderance of evidence showed that the main engine control was missing a required 600-degree training ring and the anti-rotation pin. The misassembled differential pressure pilot valve caused the main engine control to incorrectly meter abnormally high fuel flow to the engine. This led to severe engine overspeed, severe engine over-temperature, engine fire, and, ultimately, a catastrophic engine failure.

The pilot was able to extinguish the engine fire by placing the throttle to cut-off; however, the engine had sustained considerable damage and was unusable. Because the distance to the nearest suitable recovery airfield was beyond the aircraft glide capabilities, the pilot directed the aircraft toward a nearby open field prior to ejecting. The aircraft ultimately landed in a wooded area.

The pilot and the F-16 are attached to the 113th Wing, 121st Fighter Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

Photo credit: Senior Airman Perry Aston and Airman 1st Class Philip Bryant / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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