The Navy revealed a rare dual-engine failure as the cause of the F/A-18D Hornet crash into the Mayfair Mews apartment complex in Virgina Beach on April 6, 2012.
The commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, Rear Adm. Ted Branch, released details of the investigation of the crash during a news conference held at the Naval Air Station Oceana on Monday. Branch said the Hornet’s two-man crew ejected from the jet at the very last second possible to survive, 50 feet above the ground, the plane was at an altitude of 425 feet. The investigation says no disciplinary action against these pilots is warranted.
Capt. Paul Gronenmeyer, commodore of Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic said about the pilots ejecting at the last moment, “Had they waited another second, we don’t know what the outcome would have been.”
The right engine stopped working after it ingested a flammable liquid. That liquid ignited and caused a failure of the compressor, which lead to an engine stall.The investigation revealed that the engines of the F/A-18D Hornet failed for different reasons, something that is rare. Branch stated, “We have never had a dual, unrelated engine failure in the F/A-18 Hornet. This occurrence is extraordinarily unusual.”
The left engine’s afterburner did not ignite. Investigators said that the left afterburner experienced a blowout that wasn’t detected by the engine control system. The Navy was unable to determine the exact cause of that problem because of the extensive damage to the plane.
Branch said in the new conference, “It was not a single failure, but an extremely unusual and complex multisystem emergency.”
The flight of the F/A-18D Hornet only lasted about 70 seconds. According to the report at Monday’s new briefing, the Navy realized something was wrong before the plane was fully in the air.
If the hornet jet crew would have noticed the serious vibration they felt and heard coming from the right side of the plane, the investigation report says they possibly could have continued to fly.
The aircrew believed that unusual vibrations they felt shortly after the plane went airborne were due to a blown tire and began proper procedures to recover from that sort of problem. It was an incorrect but reasonable conclusion, Branch said, and one that a more experienced aircrew would likely have made, according to the news release from the Navy.
The F-18 Hornet crash in Virginia Beach destroyed 27 apartments and injured seven, but killed no one. At the news conference, Branch said, “This is our home. We recognize that flying here is not just a mission. Our families live here. When we fly here we’re flying over our homes, schools and churches and day cares. We are not just concerned about the airplane and the pilots. We are concerned about our community.”
Jet Crash Simulation
The Navy created this simulation of the F/A-18D Hornet crash that occurred in Va. Beach in April based on data from the flight recorder.
FA-18 Hornet Crash in Virginia Beach
A US Navy f-18 hornet jet crashed shortly after take-off and set fire to an apartment complex in Virginia Beach on Friday. The two-member crew ejected safely, officials said.
Navy Hornet Crash
Navy Hornet Crash into apartments near Virginia Beach, Virginia.