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  1. #1
    Cidp24's Avatar
    Cidp24 is offline Tempus Fugit
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    Military Jet Had Chance to Land Before Crash

    I know nothing of the area or aircraft emergency procedure and I was not there but this sure looks bad for those involved.

    Military jet had chance to land before fatal crash

    Military jet had chance to land before fatal crash

    SAN DIEGO – The pilot of a crippled military jet that crashed into a San Diego neighborhood and killed four people was offered a chance shortly before impact to land at a base with an approach over open water rather than head inland, recordings released Tuesday indicate.
    Recordings of conversations between federal air controllers and the pilot of the F/A-18D reveal that the pilot at least twice was offered a chance to put down the plane at the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado. The base sits at the tip of a peninsula with a flight path over water.
    Instead, the Federal Aviation Administration tapes disclose that the pilot decided to fly the jet, which had lost one engine and was showing signs of trouble with the second, to the inland Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which is about 10 miles north of Coronado.
    That route took him over the University City neighborhood, where the Dec. 8 crash incinerated two homes and damaged three others.
    Service officials in Washington, D.C., told lawmakers Tuesday that 13 Marines have been disciplined for errors that led to the crash. They said four officers at Miramar have been relieved of duty for directing the Hornet to fly over the residential area, while nine other military personnel received lesser reprimands.
    The pilot should have been told to fly over San Diego Bay and land at Coronado, the officials said.
    "This was a tragic incident that could have been prevented," Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who was among the lawmakers who received a closed-door briefing on the results of the Marine Corps' investigation into the crash, said in a statement. Had the pilot and senior military officials followed proper procedures and landed at Coronado, "the crash would not have occurred."
    It's difficult to determine the pilot's precise location from the tapes, but he reported his position as 20 miles south of Coronado, flying at 13,000 feet with 20 to 30 minutes of fuel remaining, less than a minute before he was asked by controllers if he wanted to land at Coronado, according to the recordings.
    When air controllers told him a runway was available at Coronado, the pilot said, "I'm actually going to try to take it to Miramar if possible."
    According to the tapes, air controllers gave the pilot instructions that would allow for a landing at Coronado or Miramar. At one point he was given a heading to follow but indicated he was having trouble with the jet.
    "I'm trying, sir, but single engine," the pilot said.
    The pilot said he wanted to land at Miramar and told controllers to have emergency crews ready on the ground.
    The pilot told the air controllers at one point he was within sight of Miramar, but about two minutes later, according to the tapes, an unidentified pilot reported seeing smoke on the ground near Miramar.
    The pilot ejected safely. The Marine Corps has not decided whether to discipline him, Hunter told The Associated Press.
    Four members of a Korean family were killed in their home — Young Mi Yoon, 36; her daughters Grace, 15 months, and Rachel, 2 months; and her mother Suk Im Kim, 60. Kim was visiting from South Korea to help her daughter move across town and adjust to the arrival of her second child.
    Military officials say the jet suffered a rare double engine failure, and Marine generals initially defended the choice to send the Hornet to Miramar.
    The disclosures in the tapes raise the possibility that the crash might have been averted. Since the crash, a lingering question has been why the pilot didn't attempt a landing at Coronado over open water.
    Military officials have said that after the first engine faltered, Miramar was a straight shot and that going to North Island would have required more engine thrust.
    But the tapes indicate that the ailing jet apparently was closer to Coronado when the pilot reported a possible problem with the second engine.
    Miramar is ringed by freeways and bordered on its western end by residential areas that include a high school.
    A Marine Corps spokesman, Maj. Manuel Delarosa, in December declined to disclose the plane's location when the engine trouble began or whether the aircraft was capable of reaching Coronado, citing the ongoing investigation.
    In private briefings with members of Congress, military officials have reportedly said there were factors that made landing at North Island unfeasible, but those issues have not been disclosed publicly.
    Miramar dates to 1917, when the site was used to train troops headed to World War I. As late as the 1950s, it was still miles beyond San Diego's urban fringe, but homes have since been built right up to the edge of the base, where the Navy established its "Top Gun" fighter training school in 1969.
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  2. #2
    Car 4's Avatar
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    Duncan Hunter is an unmitigated asshole and I know from talking to my pilot son (who has had some very cose calls) that you just can't second guess these things until you know all there is to know.

    Very sorry for the folks on the ground and I imagine the pilot is pretty messed up over it but I think I will wait until I have heard the rest of the story. I suspect my son will actually hear the truth.

    Car 4
    I would like my country back. I used to believe that one man could never destroy this country. Not so sure anymore!

  3. #3
    Morris is offline Chief Wheaties Pisser
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    Hindsight will always paint a better picture. But being involved in a couple of similar incidents during my time, decisions that start at the smallest level will develop into major incidents. The compounding of errors led to this. The pilot is the one who is probably at the least (if any) culpable level.

    What the crash will bring is a renewed sense to do things by the manual, correctly sign off on the repairs and make for better landing contingency program. The federal government will do what it has to and in a few years, it will be forgotten. Only to happen again.

    As a kid, Miramar was out in the sticks. Nothing surrounded it except housing to the north. However, the idiots at the county allowed the base to be enveloped by houses and neighborhoods. If the US Navy hadn't had the foresight to surround the base with as much land as feasible, they'd have idiots buying houses 500 yards off the end of the runway, moving up the canyon. Hell, they are still finding old munitions from a former impact range to the SE of the base in an old Army camp. That area is now covered in homes.

  4. #4
    TXPO710's Avatar
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    Being military and seeing this before, it will also lead to a "Safety Day". Close down and everyone sits through 8+ hours of safety talks. Government feel good band aid.

  5. #5
    Willowdared's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Car 4 View Post
    Duncan Hunter is an unmitigated asshole and I know from talking to my pilot son (who has had some very cose calls) that you just can't second guess these things until you know all there is to know.

    Very sorry for the folks on the ground and I imagine the pilot is pretty messed up over it but I think I will wait until I have heard the rest of the story. I suspect my son will actually hear the truth.

    Car 4
    Those really are the details based on the press conference held yesterday by the Marines. And that's actually Duncan Hunter Jr....I don't know yet if he takes after his dad.
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  6. #6
    Willowdared's Avatar
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    'A chain of wrong decisions'

    Shoddy maintenance, human error led to crash that killed 4, Marines say

    By Steve Liewer (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer, Rick Rogers (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer
    2:00 a.m. March 4, 2009

    Maj. Gen. Randolph Alles, assistant wing commander for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, spoke at a news conference yesterday about the causes of the F/A-18 crash in University City in December. (Eduardo Contreras / Union-Tribune) -
    Click image to enlarge


    Portions of the recording released yesterday by the Federal Aviation Administration:
    FAA air traffic controller: Nature of emergency?
    Lt. Dan Neubauer: Yes, sir. One fellow on board. I'm down to a single engine (and) possibly a problem with the other engine
    Controller: Straight into Runway 36 (at North Island)?
    Neubauer: I'm actually going to try to take it to Miramar, if possible.
    Controller: OK, just let me know what you want to do.
    Neubauer: Thank you. I'm coordinating with people on the ground to figure out what we're doing.
    Controller: Just let me know if you want to change to North Island. I'm going to keep you on a heading that will run you right by North Island and it's going to be a shortcut to Miramar.
    Neubauer: Roger.
    Military air traffic controller: (Neubauer) has crashed, actually.
    FAA supervisor: You're kidding me.
    Online: To hear a recording between the pilot and an air traffic controller, view a photo gallery and see video of yesterday's news conference at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, go to uniontrib.com/more/marinecrash

    A military jet's deadly December crash in University City could have been averted if the pilot and ground crew had followed emergency rules for landing at North Island Naval Air Station, and if the plane had been removed from service when mechanics found a fuel problem, Marine officials said in strikingly candid remarks yesterday.
    Lt. Dan Neubauer's decision to bypass North Island and head toward Miramar Marine Corps Air Station over populated areas has been criticized by many, including residents near the crash site.
    The Dec. 8 crash killed a woman, her two young daughters and her mother.
    Half an hour before the crash, Neubauer shut down one of the jet's two engines because of low oil pressure. (Editor's note: earlier version incorrectly said fuel wasn't flowing.) Marine officials defended the decision at first, saying no one could have expected the second engine to fail.
    They reversed their stance yesterday.
    “Landing at North Island was the prudent and correct decision to make,” said Col. John Rupp, operations officer for the Miramar-based 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “Unfortunately, that decision was never made.”
    No criminal charges are pending, but four officers from the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 – the squadron commander, squadron operations officer, standardization officer and maintenance officer – were relieved of their duties in the past two weeks. The move basically ends their military careers.
    “That is all the senior leadership of the command. They're gone,” said retired Navy Capt. Charles Nesby of Mira Mesa, a former aircraft-wing commander who flew 17 years out of Miramar.
    Eight other Marines and one sailor have been reprimanded.
    Marine officials have grounded Neubauer while they review his flight status. The pilot, new to the F/A-18D Hornet, was practicing his first rounds of takeoffs and landings on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on the day of the crash.
    Aviation tradition assigns full responsibility for safe operation of an aircraft to the pilot. But Maj. Gen. Randolph Alles, assistant wing commander for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, attributed the crash to “supervisory error and a chain of wrong decisions.”
    The F/A-18D suffered engine trouble shortly after Neubauer's 11:11 a.m. takeoff from the carrier about 60 miles southwest of San Diego. He was told to open his safety checklist but didn't do so, Rupp said, and instead relied on guidance from Marines at Miramar who had incomplete knowledge of his situation.
    Steve Diamond, a former naval aviator who witnessed the crash and spoke with Neubauer moments after the crash, was stunned to learn that the pilot – as well as his superiors – had neglected to use the checklist.
    “Checklists are the most essential things,” Diamond said. “It's almost like a doctor going into surgery and forgetting to wash. It's that basic.”
    Even though Neubauer shut down his right engine about 17 minutes into the flight, the fuel transfer problem persisted and activated a low-fuel warning light.
    A civilian air traffic controller offered to direct Neubauer's jet – with the call sign SHUTR25 – toward Runway 36 at North Island, according to an audio recording released yesterday by the Federal Aviation Administration. That approach would have kept the aircraft over water until it touched down.
    “I'm actually going to try to make it to Miramar if possible,” Neubauer replied as he flew at an altitude of about 13,000 feet nearly 20 miles south of North Island.
    By 11:49, Neubauer again turned down the civilian controller's suggestions to land at North Island.
    About two minutes later, Neubauer asked the controller to route him toward Miramar's Runway 6, an approach over La Jolla and University City that is rarely used.
    Because his right engine had been shut off, he made a 270-degree turn to the left instead of a shorter turn to the right. That maneuver wasted precious time and fuel, Rupp said.
    The controller asked whether the pilot would need emergency-response units at the airfield.
    “Affirm,” Neubauer replied.
    In his last transmission, Neubauer told the controller that he had the Miramar runway in sight.
    He emerged from the cloud cover, Rupp said, and moments later slowed to landing speed. At 11:57, Neubauer radioed that he had lost his second engine, which flamed out because fuel was still not flowing correctly.
    At less than 1,000 feet and nearly three miles short of the runway, the jet's electrical systems died.
    Rupp said Neubauer tried to aim the faltering jet toward a canyon. The pilot ejected 17 seconds later near the Genesee Avenue and Governor Drive.
    “He stayed with the aircraft until the last possible moment,” Rupp said.
    The jet clipped a tree and plunged into Cather Avenue near Huggins Street west of Interstate 805. Nose down, its wheels and left wing hit the ground first at 11:58 a.m. The Hornet plowed through two homes and damaged three others.
    A few minutes later, a military air traffic controller at the Miramar tower contacted the FAA traffic-control supervisor, who also is at Miramar.
    “SHUTR25 has crashed, actually,” the military controller said.
    “You're kidding me,” the FAA supervisor responded.
    The post-crash investigations showed that mechanics had noted the jet's faulty fuel system in July. But Marine pilots flew 146 more sorties – 166 flight hours – without repairs being made, Rupp said. Neubauer and those in his squadron knew of the problem when he climbed into the cockpit.
    Rupp said ambiguous maintenance requirements allowed the squadron to keep using the plane without fixing it. The practice is no longer tolerated.
    After the crash, the Marine Corps issued a fleetwide hazard report about the potential fuel problem. Forty F/A-18s, including some in Iraq, were grounded after being identified as needing a closer look.
    The Marine Corps has paid 11 families affected by the crash a total of $147,000, and it's working with those households on further claims, said Joe Kasper, spokesman for Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Lakeside. Kasper attended a Marine Corps briefing yesterday morning with Hunter and other lawmakers.
    “It is of great concern that I learned the outcome of the report,” said Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego. “Not only could this tragedy have been avoided had proper procedures been followed, but this plane should not have even been in use.”
    The four crash victims – Youngmi Lee, 36, a nurse; her daughters Grace, 15 months, and Rachel, 2 months; and her mother, Seokim Kim, 60 – were part of a family of Korean immigrants.
    The plight of grocer Don Yoon, Lee's husband, touched many people in San Diego and elsewhere. Yoon publicly forgave Neubauer during a news conference the day after the tragedy.
    “I don't have any hard feelings,” Yoon said at the time. “I know he did everything he could.”
    Yesterday, Yoon's family members referred inquiries to their attorney, Raymond Feldman in Santa Monica.
    Feldman said the victims' family was briefed on the findings. “The Yoon and Lee families appreciate the candor and sensitivity shown to them as they continue to mourn for their loved ones,” Feldman said in a statement.
    Tina Neubauer of Yorba Linda, the pilot's mother, sounded close to tears when asked how her son was coping in the aftermath of the crash.
    “This is a tough time,” she said.
    Residents were startled that the Marine Corps readily took responsibility for the crash.
    “The Marines aren't trying to hide from it or duck it. They took it on the chin,” said Bob Johnson, who lived behind the Yoons and barely escaped the crash with his wife, daughter and 2-year-old grandson.
    Ron Belanger, a retired Navy transport pilot who lives less than a block from the crash site, said he was surprised to learn the safety violations were more serious than the Marine Corps first revealed.
    Belanger and other neighbors formed a group called Citizens Advocating Safe Aviation to push the Marines into investigating thoroughly and limiting future flights over University City. He, too, was impressed by the Marines' honesty.
    “After the general's briefing today,” he said, “I think we're out of business.”
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