Accident rates for Air Force remotely piloted aircraft are decreasing despite the steep escalation in RPA flight hours, said Air Force safety officials in a Sept. 11 release. These RPAs include the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and RQ-4 Global Hawk. “The MQ-1 was the second most flown airframe last year, second only to the C-17,” said Lt. Col. Maggie Howard, RPA branch chief with the Air Force Safety Center at Kirtland AFB, N.M. Between Fiscal 2007 and Fiscal 2011, MQ-1 flying hours “increased from approximately 79,000 to 239,000—a 200 percent increase,” she added. Despite that spike, “RPA safety rates are improving over time due to design and system re-engineering,” said Ken Pascoe, AFSC systems safety engineer. Last year, Air Force RPAs suffered 13 Class A mishaps, averaging 3.8 serious accidents per 100,000 flight hours, according to the release. That rate is “currently lower” than the F-16’s frequency of serious accidents, noted AFSC operations analyst Greg Grigson. (Kirtland report by Darlene Cowsert)
The Air Force pointed out numerous operational and programmatic effects from Congress' inability to approve fiscal 2022 funding. These include hits to programs already underway as well as 16 new starts, plus seven military construction projects. Readiness also is suffering because the funding limits maintenance and exercises.