Accident General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper 12-4201, Wednesday 27 June 2018
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Date:Wednesday 27 June 2018
Time:18:23 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic Q9 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper
Owner/operator:United States Air Force (USAF)
Registration: 12-4201
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:unknown -   Afghanistan
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: USAF AIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
On 27 June 2018, at about 1823 Zulu Time, the MQ-9A drone impacted the ground short of the runway in the United States Central Command
Area of Responsibility (US CENTCOM AOR). Assigned to the 432d Wing, Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, the MQ-9A was operated by the 62d Expeditionary Attack Squadron Launch and Recovery Element in the deployed environment at the time of the mishap. The aircraft was destroyed.
Approximately 20 minutes after a successful launch, the mishap crew (MC) discovered an oil level and pressure warning; the oil was at 76 percent and dropping rapidly. The MC declared an inflight emergency, notified the Mishap Mission Safety Observer (MMSO), and turned the MQ-9A back towards the airfield. The mishap pilot (MP) declared his intention to move the MQ-9A to a position above the airfield (high key) which would provide the pilot more time to assess the situation and more opportunities to land the aircraft.
Once the MMSO arrived in the Ground Control Station, he assessed the situation and recommended the MP not to go for high key but rather to head straight to the field for a straight-in approach. A straight-in approach is a quicker option to land the aircraft, but the pilot has only
one opportunity to land the aircraft. The MP altered course to head for a straight-in approach, reasoning a high key approach may result in loss of life if he lost link with the MQ-9A.
About 10 nautical miles from the airfield, the MQ-9A experienced un-commanded high torque, making it difficult for the MC to slow the drone. The MP subsequently shut down the engine. As the MQ-9A approached the runway, the MC assessed the altitude to be too high and the energy to be too fast for a successful landing. Therefore, the MP, at the direction of the MMSO, took two corrective actions. First, the MP slipped the aircraft, reducing the altitude. Second, the MP activated the flaps to slow the drone. The MQ-9A slowed, stalled, and crashed just short of the runway, within the fence line. It caught fire upon impact, and it was destroyed.

The Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) President found, by a preponderance of the evidence, the cause of the mishap was the MC’s deviation from preferred simulated flame out emergency procedures following an oil leak. In addition, the AAIB President determined, by a preponderance of the evidence, the MP’s lack of assertiveness was a substantially contributing factor in the mishap.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: USAF AIB
Report number: 
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 6 months
Download report: Final report



Revision history:

17-Jan-2020 19:12 harro Added
17-Jan-2020 19:13 harro Updated [Source, Accident report, ]

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