Accident Northrop T-38C Talon 64-13213, 20 Nov 2017
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 201530
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Type:Silhouette image of generic T38 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Northrop T-38C Talon
Owner/operator:United States Air Force (USAF)
Registration: 64-13213
MSN: N.5642
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Val Verde County, NNW of Del Rio, TX -   United States of America
Phase: Unknown
Departure airport:Del Rio-Laughlin AFB, TX (DLF/KDLF)
Destination airport:Del Rio-Laughlin AFB, TX (DLF/KDLF)
Investigating agency: USAF AIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
On 20 November 2017, at 15:46:28 hours, local time, a T-38C, tail number 64-3213, crashed approximately 12 miles northwest of Laughlin Air Force Base (AFB), Texas (TX), completely destroying the aircraft and fatally injuring the mishap requalification pilot (MRP) who was occupying the rear seat. The mishap aircrew (MC) consisted of a mishap instructor pilot (MIP) occupying the front seat who was supervising the MRP who was conducting a requalification mission. The MIP successfully ejected and sustained minor injuries. The MRP did not eject and was fatally injured during ground impact. The MIP, MRP and mishap aircraft (MA) were assigned
to the 87th Flying Training Squadron, 47th Flying Training Wing, Laughlin AFB, TX. During the mishap sortie (MS), the mishap aircraft (MA) crashed while returning to base following a reported aircraft malfunction. The destroyed aircraft is valued at approximately $11 million. The MRP was a T-38 instructor pilot undergoing requalification training after return from a nonflying overseas deployment. During a local training sortie, the MA experienced an airframe mounted gearbox failure on the left engine, resulting in the loss of the left alternating current generator and left hydraulic pump. The MC accomplished required checklists and coordinated for immediate landing at Laughlin AFB. Over four minutes later, while maneuvering to final approach, the MC detected additional failed electrical systems accompanied by failure of the right engine hydraulic pump and the right airframe mounted gearbox. With failures of both gearboxes and their associated hydraulic pumps, the MA suffered total hydraulic failure and was
uncontrollable by the MC, leaving ejection as the only suitable alternative. The MC transmitted their intent to eject, but delayed ejection over concern for a populated area below.

The Accident Investigation Board President determined, by preponderance of evidence, the cause of the mishap to be dual airframe mounted gearbox failure. A substantial contributing factor to these gearbox failures was a lack of maintenance guidance addressing similar repeated failures of the MA. The Board President also found, by a preponderance of evidence, the cause of fatal injuries suffered by the MRP was the MC’s failure to complete the before takeoff checklist item that called for the proper ejection seat system settings. Finally, the Board President found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that factors that substantially contributed to the mishap were Task Misprioritization, Checklist Interference, Instrumentation and Sensory Feedback Systems, and the Delayed Decision to eject.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: USAF AIB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 9 months
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

21-Nov-2017 01:56 Geno Added
21-Nov-2017 03:39 Geno Updated [Total fatalities, Damage, Narrative]
22-Nov-2017 07:49 Aerossurance Updated [Operator, Narrative]
24-Aug-2018 07:35 harro Updated [Time, Registration, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Accident report, ]
08-Dec-2022 06:57 nhofmann54 Updated [Registration, Cn, Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source]

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