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F-22 Losses

20 December 2004 Crash

Commanders of units flying the F/A-22 Raptor called for a safety stand down of the fleet following a crash 20 December 2004 at Nellis Air Force Base, NV. The pilot ejected safely and suffered no serious injuries. The aircraft, assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis, crashed on takeoff and exploded. The $133.3-million aircraft, assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis, was destroyed when it crashed. Additional damage was limited to an arresting cable, runway guide sign, runway light, and the runway itself.

The Raptor is a priority transformational program and had logged more than 7,000 flight hours. Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Goldfein, commander of the Air Warfare Center at Nellis, stood down the remaining seven F/A-22s at the base immediately following the crash pending a complete inspection.

Air Force officials cleared the F/A-22 Raptor to resume flight operations on Jan. 6, 2005 following a comprehensive review of procedural and engineering data. While the investigation of the accident was to continue, Air Force officials were reported to have enough information available to them to continuebeing highly confident in the design, testing and development of the F/A-22s.

A problem with a flight-control system caused an F/A-22 Raptor to crash on the runway at Nellis AFB, NV, on Dec. 20, according to a US Air Force report released 08 June 2005. The malfunction of the flight-control system was caused by a brief power interruption to the aircraft's three rate-sensor assemblies, which caused them to fail. The assemblies measure angular acceleration in all three axes: pitch, roll, and yaw. With three failed assemblies, the F/A-22 is not able to fly, investigators said.

When the pilot shut down engines for maintenance servicing, he left the auxiliary power unit running. Based on technical-order guidance, he believed the power unit would supply continuous power to the flight-control system. However, there was a less-than-one second power interruption to the assemblies during engine shutdown.

There is no automatic warning of this condition. To discover it, the pilot would have had to perform a diagnostic test. The pilot accomplished a successful test before engine shutdown, and because the power unit was on, he believed a second test was unnecessary.

25 March 2009 Crash

An accident investigation board determined that human factors associated with high gravitational forces caused the crash of an F-22 test aircraft 35 miles outside of Edwards AFB, Calif., on March 25, 2009.

The test pilot, David Cooley, a Lockheed Martin employee, was killed in the mishap. Cooley was a former Air Force pilot with significant flight experience, including in the F-22. The aircraft, assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, was destroyed. Total cost of the aircraft, equipment damage and property restoration was estimated at $155 million.

According to the Air Force Materiel Command report, Cooley was conducting high-G maneuvers, which test aircraft capabilities and integrated equipment, prior to the accident. Witness statements, voice and telemetry data and simulations show he completed two of three planned tests. During his third test maneuver, however, he appeared to have been subjected to increased physiological stressors associated with high-G maneuvers, according to the report.

The board concluded this led to an "almost" loss of consciousness and lack of situational awareness, causing Cooley to delay his aircraft recovery maneuver. The report states, "The MTP [mission test pilot] regained partial SA [situational awareness] and attempted a late recovery from the test maneuver but determined there was inadequate altitude for a safe recovery and ejected." Due to the speed of the aircraft and the windblast, the pilot immediately sustained fatal, blunt force trauma injuries upon ejection.

The accident board concluded that the aircraft itself was functioning normally and that there were no design or airworthiness issues that would impact the safe operation of the F-22 fleet.

Accident Investigation Board president Maj. Gen. David W. Eidsaune said, "The loss of Mr. Cooley is tragic and keenly felt by everyone who knew him. He was a superior test pilot and a member of the Air Force family. His service as a test pilot helped enhance the capabilities of fighter aircraft. Our thoughts and prayers continue to include the Cooley family."

16 November 2010 Crash

Search and rescue aircraft discovered the wreckage of an Air Force F-22 assigned to the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The aircraft lost contact with air traffic control at 7:40 p.m. Alaska time 16 November 2010 while on a nighttime training mission. The mishap aircraft (MA) impacted the ground during controlled flight, destroying the aircraft and fatally injuring the mishap pilot (MP).

To continue searching for the missing pilot, a rescue team was dispatched to the area, approximately 100 miles north of Anchorage, by the Alaska Air National Guard Rescue Coordination Center, the 3rd Wing and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Air Force Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing commander, held a press conference at 1 p.m. to make a statement and answer questions from the media. "Last night a 'two-ship' of F-22s, Rocky one and Rocky three, were finished with training ... about 100 miles north of here," McMullen said.

Everything was normal until about 7:40 p.m., McMullen said, when Rocky three fell off the radar scope and the pilot lost communications. "The other pilot (Rocky one) went to a tanker, got gas and then continued to look for the mishap pilot," McMullen continued. "He could not find him. At that time, the Alaska Air National Guard scrambled a C-130 and rescue helicopters. They searched the entire night."

About 10:15 a.m., an Alaska Air National Guard helicopter found a site that fits the data and the description of where we thought the mishap probably occurred, McMullen said. "They found the crash site. They were unable to land at the crash site and take a closer look. We scrambled another helicopter that should be in the area in the next few moments." McMullen said.

The DoD Inspector General (IG) concluded that the AlB Statement of Opinion regarding the cause of the mishap was not supported by the facts within the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AlB) Report consistent with the clear and convincing standard of proof established by AFI 51-503.

The AIB report cited three causal factors (channelized attention, breakdown of visual scan, and unrecognized spatial disorientation) as the cause of the F-22 mishap. However, these three factors are separate, distinct, and conflicting. The AIB report does not clearly explain their interrelationship and how it is possible that all three factors concurrently caused the mishap. Failure to adequately explain this interrelationship calls into question the AIB Statement of Opinion regarding the cause of the mishap.

The AIB report stated on page 24 “[t]he fact that the MP went from a controlled flight regime to an unusual attitude and did not take corrective actions for 30 seconds suggests he had unrecognized spatial disorientation.” However, the AIB report then also states, “[a]t 19:42:45L intentional flight control inputs stopped and did not resume for 39 seconds” (AIB report, page 24). The latter AIB statement is inconsistent with the AIB’s implied assertion that the MP was actively controlling the aircraft during this phase of the flight.

The AIB determined the MP was focused on restoring oxygen to his mask through the Emergency Oxygen System (EOS) (channelized attention), it follows he was not actively flying the aircraft (breakdown in visual scan) from the rejoin maneuver to the 7.4g recovery maneuver 3 seconds before ground impact (AIB report page 28).

The Air Force found that the AIB President’s Statement of Opinion regarding the cause of the mishap was supported by clear and convincing evidence and he exhausted all available investigative leads.

31 May 2012 Accident

On 31 May 2012, at approximately 2145 Zulu (1645 Local), an F-22A Raptor aircraft, tail number (T/N) 02-4037, assigned to the 43rd Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base (TAFB), Florida, impacted the runway gear up following a touch-and-go landing on Runway 31 Right. The pilot suffered minor injuries safely egressing the MA. There were no fatalities, significant injuries, or damage to civilian property. The estimated cost to repair the aircraft is $35 million.

The mishap pilot was an F-22A Transition Training Course (TX) student on Title 10 Orders while on tepilotorary duty (TDY) at TAFB from the 302nd Fighter Squadron (Air Force Reserve Command), Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The mishap sortie was his second day flying the F-22A and his third overall sortie in the aircraft. During the touch-and-go sequence, the pilot failed to advance power before he initiated gear retraction.

As the mishap aircraft (MA) was set to the takeoff attitude, it became momentarily airborne, allowing the pilot to prematurely raise the landing gear handle (LGH). With the power set at idle, the landing gear began to retract and the aircraft settled back on the runway impacting its underside. The aircraft slid approximately 3354 feet (ft) until it came to rest approximately 5890 ft from end of the runway.

The Accident Investigation Board (AIB) President found by clear and convincing evidence that the causes of the mishap were the pilot’s failure to advance the MA’s engines to military power and the pilot’s premature retraction of the landing gear during a touch-and-go landing. Without sufficient thrust, the aircraft settled back to the runway, landing on its underside and skidded along the runway to a stop.

Additionally, the AIB President found by the preponderance of the evidence that each of the following factors substantially contributed to the mishap: task misprioritization, distraction, error due to misperception, decision-making during operation, and inattention.

15 November 2012 Crash

A chafed electrical wire, which arced and led to an internal fire, caused an F-22A Raptor to crash at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 15, 2012, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report. The F-22 was destroyed, with total damage estimated at $149.6 million, including related equipment and impact site restoration.

The aircraft belonged to 43rd Fighter Squadron, Tyndall AFB, and the pilot was the flight lead of a two-ship training mission. The pilot ejected safely, was recovered by Tyndall AFB emergency response members and sustained no significant injuries.

According to the results of the investigation, the cause of the mishap was a chaffed, positive generator-feeder wire that arced, burned through an adjacent hydraulic line, and caused the generator to go offline. When the pilot attempted to restart the generator, the ensuing arc ignited the misting hydraulic fluid and started a fire in the F-22's left accessory-drive bay. The fire compromised critical electrical and hydraulic systems that control the F-22 flight control surfaces, and led to an unrecoverable situation.

Additionally, based on the evidence, the board president found that the weather substantially contributed to the mishap. Specifically, a solid, undercast cloud layer did not allow for a visual-flight pattern, which affected the pilot's and radar controllers' recovery options.

Maintenance personnel incorporated the investigation's findings into multiple recurring inspections of the entire F-22 fleet that ensure aircraft are operating at acceptable risk levels. Officials also are planning a permanent modification to the parts separating hydraulic and electrical lines to further minimize the chance of a recurrence of a similar event.

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Page last modified: 22-01-2016 12:28:07 ZULU