An investigation has concluded that the May 19 crash of an F-35A Lightning II at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida was caused by the pilot trying to land at an excessive speed, and a previously unknown flight control logic glitch ((Emphasis added—Ed.) that left its tail unresponsive.
The report, which the Air Force posted online Sept. 30, also listed multiple pilot mistakes or factors that investigators said significantly contributed to the crash on Eglin’s Runway 30. They found the pilot was fatigued and, as a result, “experienced cognitive degradation” was also distracted at a critical point in the flight due to a misaligned helmet-mounted display. The pilot tried to land with the speed hold engaged and used an alternate cross-check method, and lacked some key knowledge about the fighter’s flight control logic.
The pilot in this crash successfully ejected, sustaining non-life threatening injuries. The crash was the second involving a fifth-generation fighter at Eglin in short succession, following an F-22 crash four days earlier. It prompted alarmed base leadership to temporarily put flights on hold to focus on safety.
The F-35 was in the 58th Fighter Squadron, assigned to Eglin’s 33rd Fighter Wing. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Air Force Times website.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Accident Investigation Board Report states in its preamble that the mishap aircraft was “valued at $175,983,949.”
This is about twice as expensive as the unit cost claimed by Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office for US Air Force F-35A aircraft.
It is also somewhat disconcerting to discover that, despite all the work undertaken to fix the F-35’s many software problems, there was still a “previously unknown flight control logic glitch” that contributed to the accident.
Another contributing factor was a misalignment of the pilot’s helmet-mounted display, which was also too bright and distracted the pilot.
Finally, the report also notes that pilots are more tired when flying the F-35 than other aircraft, which the report attributes to the F-35’s oxygen system.)