The US Air Force’s (USAF) MQ-1B Predator crash in June 2014 was due to a failure in its right wing control module, an Air Combat Command abbreviated accident investigation board report has revealed.
The aircraft crashed on the Nevada Test and Training Range near Creech Air Force Base while it was conducting multiple training missions.
According to the investigation board, the specified failure lowered and locked the right wing aileron, a flight-control surface on the trailing edge of the wing that rolls and turns the aircraft, into a full-down position.
This un-commanded lowering led the MQ-1B to begin a roll and turn, which resulted in the aircraft’s steep angle of bank rendering it incapable of maintaining level flight.
Following this, the aircraft lost satellite communication and continued to depart controlled flight until it impacted the ground, the report stated.
It is also estimated that the accident, which destroyed the aircraft, caused approximately $4.6m worth of damages.
At the time of mishap, the aircraft was assigned to the 432nd Wing, Creech AFB, and was under the control of aircrew assigned to the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron.
The aircraft crashed carrying the second live missile. Prior to the first live shot, the aircraft had conducted several simulated missile launches, according to Flightglobal.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ MQ-1 Predator is a long-endurance, medium-altitude unmanned aircraft system for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The system is armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. It is the multi-role version that is used for armed reconnaissance and interdiction.
Image: US Air Force’s 147th Reconnaissance Wing MQ-1B Predator. Photo: courtesy of Air Combat Command.