Losses and Aviation Safety

PILOT ERROR BEHIND LAST YEAR’s TU-2S CRASH

The mishap occurred because the pilot who was flying the TU-2S for the first time made a mistake during a stall maneuver and put the aircraft into an unrecoverable situation

On Sep. 20, 2016 a U.S. Air Force (USAF) TU-2S crashed near Sutter, Calif., while performing a training mission.

According to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board (AIB) report released on Apr. 19, 2017 the aircraft crashed because entered an unintentional secondary stall.

The two pilots ejected and during the ejection sequence, the instructor pilot (IP), Lt. Col. Ira S. Eadie, was killed, and the second crew member received minor injuries.

Noteworthy the TU-2S, from 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base (AFB), Calif., was conducting an “acceptance flight” training mission.

TU-2S pilots are competitively selected from the USAF’s already qualified aviator pool, and applicants undergo three “acceptance flights” as a part of their interview process. This kind of sorties allow prospective TU-2S pilots the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the aircraft under supervision of a TU-2S IP.

The mishap occurred when the interviewing pilot who was flying the TU-2S for the first time made a mistake during a stall maneuver and when tried to recovery from the stall put the aircraft into an unrecoverable situation which led to a sharp left wing drop and excessive nose-low attitude. With the aircraft having departed controlled flight and rapidly approaching an inverted condition near the minimum uncontrolled ejection altitude, the instructor pilot commanded ejection. During the ejection sequence, the instructor pilot and his ejection seat struck the aircraft’s right wing resulting in fatal injuries.

Then the aircraft descended and crashed in the uninhabited foothills south of the Sutter Buttes mountain range.

The loss of the TU-2S was estimated to be approximately $32 million.

“This was a terrible tragedy, and our heartfelt condolences go out to Lt. Col. Eadie’s family,” said Brig. Gen. David S. Nahom, AIB board president.

Source: NEWS RELEASE: TU-2S ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION RELEASED, Air Combat Command Headquarters Public Affairs Directorate

Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings /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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