Mechanical failure led to the crash of a T-45 Goshawk trainer aircraft in Texas last year, according to an investigation obtained by Navy Times.
The aircraft, assigned to Training Air Wing 2 out of Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, was participating in a regularly scheduled training mission March 24, 2021 when the aircraft’s hydraulic system caution light appeared as the aircrew was practicing landing pattern procedures, roughly 45 minutes after takeoff.
Although the crew sought to resolve the emergency, the aircraft still suffered an “abrupt and rapid right roll soon after a hydraulic system 1 (HYD1) failure,” the investigation said. The roll off happened so quickly and at such a low altitude that the aircrew had no other option but to eject.
“This mishap was the result of a mechanical failure undetectable during normal flight operations, not due to pilot misconduct,” the investigation said. “No supervisory negligence or malpractice was causal to this mishap.”
Mishap wreckage revealed the starboard aileron power control unit separated from its piston rod, ultimately causing the right-hand roll. Ailerons control the roll of the longitudinal axis, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Due to the design of the T-45C flight control and hydraulic systems, it was not possible for the mishap aircrew to discover a failed starboard aileron PCU piston prior to the HYD 1 pressure loss, nor was it possible for the aircrew to recover the aircraft to controlled flight once the ailerons fully deflected,” the investigation said.
The Navy said the student and the instructor pilot occupying the aircraft safely ejected, without life-threatening injuries, near Navy Auxiliary Landing Field Orange Grove.
The aircraft was completely destroyed in the Class A flight mishap, which involves damages of $2.5 million or more.
According to the investigation, flight gear did not contribute to the mishap. The report also said it was “highly unlikely” that fatigue, medication, unauthorized substances or alcohol were factors.
The investigation offered several recommendations, including that the type commander and Naval Aviation Training T-45C class desk should create a team examining the failure of the aileron power control unit. The investigation also said T-45C user activities should brief on the mishap, and that the Aviation Mishap Board should conduct an investigation into the loss of hydraulic system 1 pressure.
Anne Owens, a spokesperson for the chief of Naval Air Training, told Navy Times all recommendations have been incorporated.
The crash was one of at least four Class A mishaps involving T-45s last year, according to the Naval Safety Center.