An ingested bird in a T-45C Goshawk trainer jet engine last year led to the aircraft’s crash, according to an investigation obtained by Navy Times.

The aircraft, assigned to Training Air Wing 2 at Naval Air Station Kingsville in Texas, plummeted to the ground near the runway in August 2022 after the aircraft swallowed a “large bird” — resulting in the complete loss of the T-45, valued at more than $45 million, the investigation said.

“Birds remain a significant strike hazard to T-45 operations, especially in Kingsville, which is situated within a significant migratory corridor,” the commanding officer of Training Squadron 21 said in the investigation. “Even with expansion and evolution of technology to enhance bird avoidance, aircrew must remain vigilant and be prepared to execute emergency procedures in the event a bird is ingested into the engine.”

The report found that the instructor pilot, who was the only one flying the aircraft, departed Navy Auxiliary Landing Field Orange Grove for a flight syllabus event with two other aircraft on Aug. 16, 2022.

During the flight, the instructor pilot spotted numerous birds and alerted the other aircraft of their presence on tactical frequency, the report said. The instructor pilot attempted to dodge the birds, but the report said the T-45 inhaled a large bird at an altitude of 1,900 feet.

The instructor pilot took several corrective actions to navigate challenges — including a confirmed fire with “some flames coming out the back” — but concluded the field could not be made and chose to eject roughly 2,500 feet from one of the runways at Naval Air Station Kingsville. After the pilot bailed out, the aircraft flew for three more seconds before crashing on airfield property.

The report determined the aircraft ultimately suffered a power loss and described the mishap as “wholly unavoidable.”

The instructor pilot’s 72-hour history revealed he was properly rested and free from any medications or alcohol, the report said. The instructor pilot did not sustain serious injuries.

The bird strike hazard condition was listed as “low” for the duration of the flight, and the investigation concluded neither weather nor aircraft maintenance were factors in the incident.

The investigation did not issue any line of duty recommendations, given that the incident resulted in no serious injuries or loss of work days.

The report recommended the continuation and expansion of avian radar capabilities, as well as continuing simulations involving bird strikes with associated engine failure.

There were a total of 10 Class A aviation mishaps in FY 2022, up from nine in 2021, according to the Naval Safety Command. Class A aviation mishaps involve death, $2.5 million or more in damages or the destruction of an aircraft.

Another T-45 aircraft crashed after ingesting a 4.5-pound black vulture in September 2021 as it was attempting to land at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas.

Both the instructor pilot and the student suffered injuries after ejecting, as well as at least three residents of the Lake Worth neighborhood. The incident also damaged several homes.

In Other News
Load More