The F-35A jet crash at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base this May was caused by the pilot trying to land at an excessive speed, and a flight control logic glitch that left its tail unresponsive.
The crash took place on the night of 19 May 2020. The aircraft was operated out of Eglin AFB, FL by the 58th Fighter Squadron (FS), 33rd Operations Group (OG), assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing.
The U.S.A.F. Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AIB) found that the mishap was caused first, by the F-35A’s touching down at 202 KCAS, and second, by the jet’s flight control surfaces, namely the tail of the aircraft, conflicting with the pilot’s inputs upon landing, resulting in the pilot’s inability to recover from the aircraft oscillation, USAF said in a report.
The AIB also found that four additional factors “substantially” contributed to the mishap. These contributing factors are: the pilot landed with Speed Hold engaged and using an alternate crosscheck method, the pilot’s Helmet Mounted Display misalignment distracted the pilot during a critical phase of flight, pilot experienced cognitive degradation due to fatigue, and the pilot lacked systems knowledge on flight control logic.
The pilot ejected safely but sustained nonlife threatening injuries. The jet, valued at $175,983,949, rolled, caught fire, and was completely destroyed.