DOD Inspector General Finds Fault in F-22 Accident Investigation

The Air Force’s investigation of the crash of an F-22 in Alaska two years ago failed to prove that pilot error and disorientation caused the fatal accident, according to the Pentagon’s inspector general. Pacific Air Force’s accident investigation board originally determined that pilot Capt. Jeffrey Haney’s failure to recognize vertigo symptoms, on top of his mental fixation and visual inattention, primarily caused the Nov. 16, 2010, crash. After reviewing the investigation, the Defense Department’s IG found that the board’s conclusions were “not supported by the facts” in the AIB report, according to the summary of the IG’s findings, dated Feb. 6. Furthermore, the conclusions were “not consistent with the clear and convincing standard of proof” set forth in Air Force regulations, states the summary. Air Force officials rejected the IG’s assertion that its conclusions were flawed, but admitted there were flaws in the report, according to the service’s comments included in the IG summary. The IG responded that it did “not concur with the Air Force response,” reiterating that the AIB’s conclusions were not “sufficiently supported by clear and convincing evidence.” Air Force officials told the IG that they plan to address some—though not all—of the IG’s concerns, but drew additional fire from the IG for failing to detail what measures they would take. Thereupon, the IG asked the Air Force to provide by the end of February a detailed description of the remedial action to be taken. In January 2012, at the time when the IG announced its “self-initiated evaluation” of the F-22 accident probe, then Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz called the IG’s inquest “routine” oversight. (DOD IG report; caution, large-sized file.)