F-35 Crashed As a result of Pc Glitch Attributable to Turbulence: Accident Report

In simply 10 seconds, a standard coaching mission turned an almost deadly accident when an F-35 fighter jet crashed whereas touchdown at Hill Air Pressure Base, Utah, on Oct. 19, 2022. An investigation revealed July 27 discovered the crash was attributable to a glitch within the plane software program system which occurred after the pilot, who survived with minor accidents after ejecting from the stricken jet, flew too shut into the turbulence left by the wake of the F-35 forward of him. 

In response to the investigation, the mishap plane was one in all a formation of 4 F-35s getting back from a coaching occasion over the Utah Take a look at and Coaching Vary that night. As a result of a neighborhood windspeed of 5 knots, the bottom management tower had declared that “wake turbulence procedures have been in impact,” which implies plane coming in to land needed to path at the least 9,000 toes behind the plane in entrance of them, somewhat than the same old 3,000 toes.

The investigation added that encountering wake turbulence is quite common in aviation and often innocent, however not through the touchdown section, the place surprising rolling motions might be disastrous so near the bottom. Investigators mentioned the pilots within the formation ought to have recognized wake turbulence procedures have been in impact as a result of the management tower famous windspeed of 5 knots over the runway.

Nonetheless, neither the mishap pilot nor one of many different pilots have been conscious wake turbulence procedures have been in impact, and the mishap pilot deliberate to land with the same old minimal 3,000 toes of separation, although the precise distance on this occasion was round 3,600 toes.

This illustration within the Air Pressure investigation reveals the association of the formation of F-35s utilizing the callsign ‘Legs’ shortly earlier than the Oct. 19, 2022 crash. ‘Legs 03’ was the mishap plane.

With touchdown gear down on closing strategy, the mishap pilot felt some rumbling as a result of wake turbulence of the F-35 forward of him. He flew via the disturbed air for about three seconds, which threw off the jet’s air knowledge system (ADS).

The ADS is made up of sensors that accumulate data from exterior the plane in order that the plane computer systems can calculate the minute management changes wanted to maintain flying. On this case, the disturbed air made the ADS sometimes cease listening to knowledge coming in from sensors on the best aspect of the plane, and cease listening to knowledge from the left aspect altogether.

Every time the ADS switched between these main sensors and backup sources for gauging flight circumstances, the additional its assessments drifted from precise flight circumstances. The poor assessments led to the ADS calculating incorrect flight changes, and the pilot discovered the system disregarded his personal makes an attempt to get the jet again beneath management.

The jet “appeared like a very regular F-35 earlier than clearly going uncontrolled,” one F-35 take a look at pilot who noticed the mishap from the bottom instructed investigators. “When the oscillations have been taking place, I did see actually massive flight management floor actions, stabs, trailing edge flaps, rudders all appear to be shifting fairly quickly like, most likely at their price limits, and large deflections.”

Air Pressure jets are sometimes outfitted with computer systems that make minor management changes mid-flight, they usually often work with out subject. Investigators famous there have been over 600,000 F-35 flight hours “with no recognized comparable incidents of wake turbulence impacting the ADS.”

However on this flight, the F-35 put itself able with “nearly no probability of recovering,” the take a look at pilot mentioned. The mishap pilot lit his afterburner to attempt to regain management, however was unable as a result of low altitude and airspeed. With simply 200 toes between him and the bottom, the pilot ejected and landed safely simply exterior the airfield fence line. The majority of the F-35 crashed inside airfield boundaries, although elements of the cockpit, cover, and ejection seat landed simply exterior the fence. The complete mishap, from the preliminary rumbling to ejection, took about 10 seconds.

This picture from an Air Pressure investigation reveals the place of the mishap F-35 proper earlier than the pilot ejected. The stricken jet was able that one take a look at pilot known as nearly unrecoverable.

Afterwards, when investigators recreated the occasions of the crash in a simulator, they discovered that “every try at replicating the mishap sequence resulted within the simulator departing managed flight.”

Ultimately, Col. Kevin Lord, president of the accident investigation board, decided the reason for the mishap was the F-35 departing managed flight as a consequence of ADS errors, however the pilot trailing too near the previous F-35 was a major contributing issue.

The F-35 was fully destroyed within the incident, and the Air Pressure Accident Investigation Board valued the loss at $166.3 million, nicely above the typical value of an F-35. Air Pressure coverage instructs investigators to find out prices by combining the flyaway value of an plane, non-DOD property injury, and environmental clean-up prices. Air Fight Command didn’t instantly reply to a question from Air & Area Forces Journal asking for a breakdown of the mishap value.

This was the seventh crash of the Lockheed Martin-made F-35. It was preceded by crashes of two USAF F-35As, two Marine Corps F-35Bs, one U.S. Navy F-35C, one Japan Air Self-Protection Pressure F-35A, and one Royal Air Pressure F-35B. Later that December, a Marine Corps F-35B was broken when its touchdown gear malfunctioned, inflicting the nostril to the contact the bottom. The pilot was unhurt.