F-16C crash at Kunsan blamed on flight control system failures
A chain of flight control system failures caused an Air Force F-16C fighter to crash in waters off Kunsan Air Base earlier this year, Air Force officials confirmed Tuesday.
The pilot, Capt. Donald Siegmund of the 35th Fighter Squadron, ejected into the Yellow Sea about 25 miles from base on March 14 during what Air Force officials called a routine training mission.
A South Korean rescue helicopter retrieved Siegmund unharmed.
The pilot had two chances to prevent the crash when his flight control system malfunctioned, according to the accident investigation board’s final report.
“But because he did not follow the technical order procedures in a timely manner (prior to the third FLCS malfunction) he was not able to prevent the crash,” Pacific Air Force Command officials said in a news release.
More specific information on what part of the flight controls malfunctioned was unavailable at press time. The system can consist of flight control surfaces, cockpit controls, connecting linkage and any other mechanisms that maintain control of the plane.
The accident board, which convened May 22, included a senior-rated pilot and experts in maintenance, engines, military law and flight safety, officials said.
In May, Navy divers recovered 85 percent of the aircraft from under about 60 feet of water. The salvage included wing segments, the cockpit and data-recording equipment, officials said.
Bad weather scuttled the initial recovery effort after six days in March. But the USS Safeguard, a 250-foot rescue-and-salvage ship from Sasebo Naval Base in Japan, returned to the scene May 5 with divers from Mobile Diving Salvage Unit 1.
They recovered debris during 12 dives over several days, Navy officials said.