Pilot error resulted in fatal F-15 crash in North Sea, Air Force report says
Disorientation and reduced visibility were factors in the death of a US Air Force pilot who crashed his F-15C fighter jet off England’s coast earlier this year, service officials said in a statement on Monday.
Air Force 1st Lt Kenneth Allen, 27, with the RAF Lakenheathbased at the 48th Fighter Wing, was killed after his plane plunged into the North Sea about 140 miles northeast of the base on June 15.
An Air Force Accident Investigation Committee determined that the crash was the result of “the pilot’s fixation on the interception of the simulated adversary’s aircraft and the inability to d ‘perform visual scans of the cockpit instruments’ as it flew through the cloud cover and suffered spatial disorientation, according to the report.
The weather in the airspace at that time would have several layers of cloud up to 25,000 feet. Other pilots nearby said the horizon was “difficult if not impossible to discern below” 9,000 feet, according to the report.
Allen, was considered an inexperienced pilot with approximately 271 total flight hours, more than half of which in the F-15C simulator.
On the day of the accident, it was participating in routine training, flying as No.4 jet in a four-on-six air-to-air exercise.
As he flew east at 20,300 feet, Allen was ordered to make a sharp right turn to the west and search for the opposing aircraft at a lower altitude, according to the report.
Allen made the turn and simulated a missile fire against the other aircraft and continued its descent to 12,000 feet. When told his simulated strike was likely a failure, Allen initiated a steep diving left turn to intercept the plane, descending at one point at a vertical speed of 38,800 feet per minute, according to the report.
At around 1,000 feet, Allen maneuvered his plane near wing level and fired 8.2 G forces in an apparent attempt to recover his jet over water, the report said.
In his conclusions, the chairman of the board, Major-General Dean Tremps, said that it seemed that Allen was focusing on intercepting the other plane, either visually or with his radar “and not was not monitoring the altitude, speed and attitude instruments of his plane ”.
As he emerged from the low cloud layer at about 1000 feet with a “horizon visible and a ‘ground run’ of the rapidly approaching ocean,” he sensed his position and attempted to recover. the plane, but was unable due to its speed and altitude, Tremps writes in his opinion summary.
Allen’s “fixation on his interception” of the other plane and not using visual scans from his cockpit instrument caused the crash, Tremps said, with reduced visibility and a lack of horizon discernible resulting in spatial disorientation.
Allen hit the water at about 651 miles per hour. Tremps said there was no evidence he attempted to eject himself, even though he was at too low an altitude for a successful ejection.
The plane, worth an estimated $ 45 million, was destroyed.
A search and rescue effort, hampered by poor visibility near the crash site, was launched by the US Air Force and the British Coast Guard and Navy.
About two hours after the crash, crews spotted an oil slick and the pilot’s shredded life raft. Other items recovered from the debris field included the pilot’s survival kit and the unopened parachute. Allen’s body was found the same day, according to the report.
The report ruled out aircraft malfunctions, component failures, and maintenance issues as contributing factors to the crash.
“Lieutenant Allen was an exceptional officer and a tremendous asset to the team,” said General Jeff Harrigian, commander of the US Air Force in Europe and the African Air Force, in a statement. “No words can make up for such a painful and sudden loss.”
48 Fighter Wing Commander Col. Jason Camilletti said the wing and in particular Allen’s 493 Fighter Squadron were “truly touched by the tremendous outpouring of support from families, friends and partners around the world. whole in our time of mourning “.
This story has been updated.
View full article
© Copyright 2021 Stars and Stripes. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.