Air Force Reports Pilot Error
In The Crash Of An MQ-1B Predator
August 24, 2010 -
U.S Air Force reports pilot error caused the crash of an MQ-1B Predator
at Southern California Logistics Airport during an April 20 training
mission, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board
report released Aug. 20.
The Predator was
an Air National Guard aircraft from the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing at
March Joint Air Reserve Base,
While no injuries occurred as a result of the accident, the aircraft and one inert Hellfire training missile were a total loss. The estimated damage to government property, including a runway light, is valued at about $3.7 million.
According to the
report, the crash was caused by a student pilot's failure to recognize
the aircraft's speed was too low for the weather conditions and aircraft
configuration. Insufficient speed during final approach caused a stall
from which the student pilot and his instructor were unable to recover.
This resulted in a hard landing that exceeded design limitations for the
aircraft. Upon impact, the left wingtip dragged on the ground, causing
the aircraft to leave the prepared runway surface and subsequently break
apart. Unexpectedly difficult wind conditions at the field during the
landing contributed to the mishap, officials said.
The MQ-1B Predator
is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aircraft system. The
Predator's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction, and
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR. It acts as a
Joint Forces Air Component Commander-owned theater asset for
reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of the
Joint Forces Commander.
The MQ-1B Predator
is a system, not just an aircraft. A fully operational system consists
of four aircraft (with sensors and weapons), a ground control station,
or GCS, a Predator Primary Satellite Link, or PPSL, and spare equipment
along with operations and maintenance crews for deployed 24-hour
The basic crew for
the Predator is a rated pilot to control the aircraft and command the
mission and an enlisted aircrew member to operate sensors and weapons
plus a mission coordinator, when required. The crew employs the aircraft
from inside the GCS via a line-of-sight data link or a satellite data
link for beyond line-of-sight operations.
The MQ-1B Predator
carries the Multi-spectral Targeting System, or MTS-A, which integrates
an infrared sensor, a color/monochrome daylight TV camera, an
image-intensified TV camera, a laser designator and a laser illuminator
into a single package. The full motion video from each of the imaging
sensors can be viewed as separate video streams or fused together. The
aircraft can employ two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles which
possess a highly accurate, low collateral damage, and anti-armor and
anti-personnel engagement capability.
The system can be deployed for worldwide operations. The Predator aircraft can be disassembled and loaded into a container for travel. The ground control system and PPSL are transportable in a C-130 Hercules (or larger) transport aircraft. The Predator can operate on a 5,000 by 75 foot (1,524 meters by 23 meters) hard surface runway with clear line-of-sight to the ground data terminal antenna. The antenna provides line-of-sight communications for takeoff and landing. The PPSL provides over-the-horizon communications for the aircraft and sensors.
method of employment, Remote Split Operations, employs a GCS for takeoff
and landing operations at the forward operating location while the CONUS
based crew executes the mission via beyond-line-of-sight links.
system was designed in response to a Department of Defense requirement
to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
information combined with a kill capability to the warfighter.
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