Engine Malfunction Doomed F-16

Engine failure and a subsequent engine stall caused the crash of an F-16 fighter northeast of Kunsan AB, South Korea, on March 21, announced Pacific Air Forces officials on Aug. 16. They cited the findings of the newly released report from the command’s accident investigation board. The investigators determined that the fighter’s engine malfunctioned following the liberation of two fifth-stage compressor blades due to higher than normal high-cycle and vibration-induced fatigue, states the report’s executive summary. The pilot’s actions to recover the engine were “focused, precise, and appropriate,” but the engine continued to degrade, states the summary. The pilot ejected safely and sustained no injuries. However, the F-16, tail number 90-0771, was lost at a cost of $21.6 million. The Air Force had to spend another $187,419 on the environmental cleanup. The F-16 was assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base. It was on a routine training mission when the mishap occurred. (AIB report; caution, large-sized file.)