The investigation into the fatal March 2015 BAE Hawk mishap at MCAS Yuma has concluded, and the FAA is pointing in three directions. The Federal Aviation Administration has cited pilot error, USAF oversight, and USMC airport policies as probable causes for the stall. The NTSB report is definitely an interesting and eye-opening read. Take a look and let us know your thoughts.
The swept-wing advanced trainer/light attack airplane was privately owned and contracted to provide support to the US Air Force (USAF) under public aircraft provisions. It was equipped with wing-mounted external fuel tanks and bomb rack/dispensers loaded with practice ordinance. During takeoff, the airline transport pilot was unable to maintain airplane control following rotation.
The airplane did not climb, departed the left side of the runway, and struck a pickup truck, which was involved in construction activities and parked about 150 ft from the runway edge. The occupant of the truck was killed, the pilot and his passenger (who was flying as a “ride along”) were not injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage.
The entire accident sequence was captured by an onboard video camera, which was positioned inside the canopy at the rear of the cockpit. The camera recorded some engine instruments, the primary flight instruments, the back of the pilot’s head, and the runway and horizon.
Analysis of the recording revealed that the pilot initiated rotation about 8 knots before reaching the correct indicated airspeed and that the airplane lifted off the ground about 10 knots early, about the same time as it reached its target pitch attitude.
The video image, which up until this point had been smooth, then began to shudder in a manner consistent with the airplane experiencing the buffet of an aerodynamic stall. The airplane immediately rolled aggressively left, and the main landing gear struck the ground hard. The airplane then pitched up aggressively and began a series of roll-and-pitch oscillations, bouncing from left to right with the outboard bomb dispensers and landing gear alternately striking the ground as the pilot attempted to establish control.
The airplane passed beyond the runway edge and reached its target takeoff speed just before striking the truck, but by this time, it had departed controlled flight, was in a steep right bank at almost twice its target pitch attitude, indicating that it had likely aerodynamically stalled.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.