by reader ilsm
B-2 Spirit Bomber Totaled.
The phone rang in the pentagon. The Air Force general on the line called home to tell Dad he wrecked one of his shiny new toys.
Last Feb on Guam a B-2, which flies by wire. controlled by software, pitched up without input from the flight controls, drag exceeded lift, the crew ejected safely and airplane impacted ground at far more “G’s” than it was designed to survive. Totaled in an inelastic collision.
CNN reported: That an informal operating technique used by some crews and support personnel was not used, so there is no local “blame”. The blame was “moisture” and should be considered systemic.
“This technique was never formalized in a technical order change or captured in ‘lessons learned’ reports. Hence, only some pilots and some maintenance technicians knew of the suggestion,” according to Carpenter’s executive summary of the accident.
The report said, “The human factor of communicating critical information was a contributing factor to this mishap.”
Buffpilot and I know something about these things. He was a bomber pilot on B-52. I was a maintainer in a number of different aircraft over the years of my early career.
I have problems with the stated conclusions. People working on airplanes must follow the technical orders, that is, do no more or less or they are violating a directive designed to maintain safe operations. That some procedures were done over and above the technical order is a deviation from procedures. That the procedures were needed at other locations and not documented is another system failure. Human factors is not my conclusion.
Work done on all aircraft has to be meticulously recorded, even those carrying civilians from Hart Field. What happened with the B-2 fleet is work was being done on an aircraft which was not technically reviewed, not proven good and not documented so that if it were beneficial it could save the B-2 from crashing.
I was going to leave it at that but I need to relate that not only was a procedure not documented, but a failure mode or situation which destroyed the airplane was not identified, even in the $20B spent designing and testing the thing. There is an engineering failure here as well.
Possibly they ran out of funds to model all the things that can crash the airplane in the environment, hardware, software and what humans can impact.
The issues in the Air Force are far deeper than human factors on some flight line.
Losing a $1.4B asset for vague failures is worrisome and the Air Force’s problems were not fixed by a couple of resignations.
Whittling beaks sometimes gets in the way of getting real work done.
This one by ilsm