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Air Force releases MQ-9A crash report

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board report for an MQ-9A crash in 2015, was approved for release on Jan. 20.

The aircraft, assigned to the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, crashed in an open field near Kandahar International Airport, Afghanistan on Nov. 18, 2015. There were no fatalities or damage to private property.

The launch and recovery element mishap crew noticed high oil pressure, rising exhaust gas temperature, and fluctuating torque immediately upon take-off. The crew reported the in-flight emergency and attempted a recovery to the runway; however, complete engine failure occurred at approximately 500 feet above ground level and the Reaper and its payload were destroyed upon impact.

In accordance with AFI 51-503, Aerospace and Ground Accident Investigations, the accident investigation board conducted a legal investigation to inquire into all the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident, prepared a publicly-releasable report, and obtained and preserved all available evidence for use in litigation, claims, disciplinary action, and adverse administrative action.

The board concluded that the cause of the crash was a compressor bearing failure that led to engine loss. In addition, the lack of an audible warning to indicate the high oil pressure associated with the bearing failure and the crew’s task saturation significantly contributed to the mishap.

For questions concerning the report, or to request a copy, please contact Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs at 850-884-5515.