San Diego F/A-18D Hornet Crash: Update

Posted on 05. Mar, 2009 by in Featured

Four Senior USMC Officers have been relieved of command and nine more have received punitive letters of reprimand. This is tantamount to an admission of major judgmental errors. The actual technical term is, relieved for cause. In the Naval Service (including the Marine Corps) when there is a major lapse of judgment involving loss of a vessel (aircraft) or life, they go up the chain of command. If a ship runs aground, even if the skipper is asleep in his rack, he is relieved of command. He is responsible, not only for the ship and the training of the crew, but the command atmosphere as well. You can delegate authority, but not accountability.

The F-18 was initially diverted to NAS (Naval Air Station) North Island. The squadron and pilot decided to continue on to MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Miramar, further inland. According to press reports, as I suspected in an earlier post, the emergency was compounded by secondary problems. One of the secondary problems was apparently a fuel transfer issue. Thus, the engine flamed out due to fuel starvation, even though there was fuel in the tanks. IMO it is the handling of the fuel transfer problem that lead to the disciplinary action.

Diverting with one engine shut down is not a big deal. I personally have diverted into MCAS Miramar in an F-4 Phantom with an engine shut down from the same over sea range. In fact, I have 1,100 hours flying the A-4 Sky Hawk, it only had one engine. The press will key on the passing of NAS North Island, missing the point as usual.

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