Investigation: Pilot Took Off With Incorrect Data, Causing F-22 to Slide on Its Belly

According to a USAF Accident Investigation Board report, the pilot's Takeoff and Landing Data for the conditions at NAS Fallon, Nev., were incorrect. USAF photo.

An F-22 pilot took off with incorrect data and prematurely retracted the aircraft’s landing gear during a training flight in April at NAS Fallon, Nev., causing the aircraft to land on its belly and skid to a stop, the Air Force announced.

On April 13, an F-22 pilot from the 90th Fighter Squadron at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, took off from Fallon for a TOPGUN graduation exercise. The pilot rotated the aircraft — bringing the nose up — at 120 knots and as the aircraft indicated its wheels were leaving the ground, the pilot retracted the landing gear. Immediately after landing gear retracted, the aircraft “settled” back on the runway with the doors fully closed.

The F-22 slid about 6,514 feet until coming to a rest, with its tailhook bouncing off the ground. Once the F-22 came to a stop, the pilot egressed the cockpit and there was no damage to other property. The Air Force did not disclose a cost estimate to the damage.

The Accident Investigation Board found that the pilot had incorrect Takeoff and Landing Data for the conditions at Fallon — the pilot’s lineup card stated 136 knots indicated airspeed knots for rotation and 163 knots for full takeoff while that day’s conditions called for 143 knots for rotation and 164 knots for takeoff.

The investigation also found that the pilot prematurely retracted the landing gear and that day’s flight brief was inadequate.

Additionally, the F-22 community has “organizational overconfidence” in the equipment, formal training is not adequate, and there is an organizational acceptance of an incorrect technique of taking off in the F-22, the board found.

The incident was one of two involving Elmendorf Raptors within about a week. On April 6, an F-22 suffered engine failure and was forced to land at Tyndall AFB, Fla.