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F-16 accident investigation complete

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) --

Air Force officials announced the results of an F-16D Fighting Falcon accident investigation today.

The investigation into the June 26, F-16 mishap at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., determined the mishap was due to the pilot’s decision-making error after the aircraft suffered low-altitude bird strikes following takeoff.

The mishap instructor pilot and mishap student pilot, assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing’s 309th Fighter Squadron, were executing a planned touch-and-go training exercise when the aircraft’s engine ingested several birds resulting in degraded engine performance.

The Accident Investigation Board found evidence that the cause of the mishap was a result of the pilot erroneously electing to make an immediate turn that robbed the aircraft of altitude and airspeed, rather than climbing straight ahead to achieve minimum maneuvering speed for aircraft recovery. The mishap instructor pilot’s channelized attention and breakdown of visual scan limited the time to fully analyze the situation and successfully recover flight. All of the factors substantially contributed to the aircraft mishap.

Both pilots were able to safely exit the aircraft, suffering only minor injuries. There were no fatalities or significant injuries, and only limited damage to civilian property. The estimated damage costs are approximately $22 million.

The president of the Accident Investigation Board was Col. John J. Menozzi. He is assigned as the 71st Flying Training Wing Vice Wing Commander at Vance AFB, Okla.