AIB Found Pilot Error Caused F-16C Collision

Investigators determined instructor pilot error caused the midair collision of two District of Columbia Air National Guard F-16Cs during a night intercept training sortie over the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 1. The instructor pilot was demonstrating an intercept maneuver against a non-maneuvering F-16 “target” for the benefit of a third pilot undergoing upgrade certification, according to the AIB report released Dec. 18. Instead of following established procedures, the instructor approached too fast with insufficient vertical and horizontal separation, ramming the target and causing its pilot to eject, according to the report. Investigators cited “overconfidence, inadequate crew rest, fatigue, and lack of discipline” as key factors in a summary accompanying the report. The loss of F-16, serial number 86-0357, was estimated at $23 million. Both aircraft are assigned to the 121st Fighter Squadron there. (AIB report; caution; large-sized file.)