AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, SOUTH CAROLINA
18 APRIL 2005
On 18 April 2005, at l653L (2053Z), an F-16D serial number 91-0469,
crashed five nautical miles southeast of Charleston Air Force Base,
South Carolina, in an unpopulated marsh adjacent to the Ashley River.
The F-16D, assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw AFB, SC, was part of
a two-ship training and familiarization flight. The mishap pilot (MPl)
and passenger (MP2) both ejected safely. There were no significant
injuries to MPI or MP2, only minor damage to private land, and no
The mishap mission was briefed as the second of two scheduled sorties-a
two-ship Basic Fighter Maneuver mission off the coast of South Carolina.
As the mishap aircraft (MA) crossed the coastline outbound, the mishap
engine (ME) suddenly had a significant loss of thrust. MP 1 attempted
three engine restarts while maneuvering for a flameout
approach. Once realizing the MA's inability to safely reach the runway,
MPI aimed his stricken aircraft toward unpopulated marshland and
initiated a successful dual ejection.
There is clear and convincing evidence that the cause of the mishap was
the ME's catastrophic failure and sudden lack of thrust due to High
Pressure Turbine (HPT) blade failure. There is clear and convincing
evidence that the HPT blade failure was caused by the required blade
seals not being installed in the HPT rotor assembly during scheduled
Though not a cause of the mishap, technical order discipline was not
adhered to in two additional cases. Nosewheel tire kit equipment was not
initially removed from the MA prior to taxiing for the flight, and MPI'
s survival kit was incorrectly rigged during a previous annual
The MA's gliding capability was hampered by external stores and
headwinds enroute to the emergency divert airfield. The centerline tank
remained attached to the MA, but did not significantly add to the MA's
weight, drag, or inability to reach the divert airfield. The pilot flew
around built-up areas until required for final approach, and then
skillfully avoided urban terrain while ditching the stricken aircraft.
The pilot's prioritization of preventing civilian loss of life or injury
by avoiding populated areas during a flameout
approach and then when ditching the unrecoverable aircraft is
Under 10 US.C. 2254(d), any opinion of the accident investigators as
to the cause of, or
the factors contributing to, the accident set forth in the accident
investigation report may
not be considered as evidence in any civil or criminal proceeding
arising from an aircraft
accident, nor may such information be considered an admission of
liability by the United States or by any person referred to in those
conclusions or statements.
pilot, Maj. Steve Granger, realizing he couldn't get the jet back to
Charleston Air Force Base chose to fly over the waterways around
Charleston instead of more populated areas to make sure the plane didn't
crash into homes or businesses.
Granger and the other pilot, Lt. Col. Maurice Salcedo, parachuted from
the jet about 10 seconds before it crashed. Both walked away.