NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE (AP) — The president of an Air Force investigative board says in a detailed report released Friday that it took a ‘perfect storm’ of events for a fighter plane to crash in rural Nevada in October, which he warns could happen again.
An F-15C Eagle from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. was destroyed after the plane went into a spin while training at the Nevada Test and Training Range. The pilot briefly recovered control of the plane, but he was forced to eject seconds before it crashed about 85 miles north-northwest of Nellis Air Force Base, which is near Las Vegas. The pilot, who has not been identified, was not seriously injured. The loss of the jet was valued at $32 million.
Lt. Col. Dylan Wells, president of the Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board, wrote that due to a lack of evidence he couldn’t determine one specific root cause of the crash, but he said that were six contributing factors. Wells wrote that without any one of those factors, the loss of the aircraft would have been precluded.
Among them, the aircraft had structural imperfection, there was a misapplication of flight controls and a misperception of operational conditions.
“The fact that so little evidence survived eliminates any ability to pigeon-hole the mishap sequence into a singular cause that ‘derails the train.’ In some respects that is a very good thing. It was impossible to objectively prioritize contributing factors into an ordered list showing accident causality.” he wrote.
The plane was not equipped with a crash-survivable flight data recorder and the pilot failed to power two other recording systems, according to the report.
“There was a mishap due to a unique alignment in sequence, time, and interrelationship — all had to occur for the chain to be complete. The final conclusion is this perfect storm will happen again. It is clearly unique but, given the right circumstances, repeatable.”
However, Wells also noted a similar crash is also preventable.