A Failed Nose Job

A nosewheel frozen off-center caused an MQ-9A Reaper to crash after landing at a US Africa Command base in May 2015, Air Combat Command investigators found. The remotely piloted aircraft was assigned to the 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., but operated by the 33rd Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron and deployed to AFRICOM’s area of responsibility when a failed nosewheel servo driver left the front wheel locked at 12 degrees left of center prior to landing, according to the abbreviated investigation report. The crew determined they could not fix the wheel while the RPA was airborne and decided to attempt a landing at the base. The pilot landed the aircraft with the nosewheel off the runway, but once it touched down 3,000 feet later, the RPA veered left. The pilot attempted to compensate by applying full right rudder and right brake, but the aircraft departed the runway and came to rest about 20 yards off the edge, damaging the airframe and equipment. Investigators found an electrical overstress shorted the servomotor, which then blew two power input fuses, and resulted in a complete loss of the nosehweel steering servo. The damage to government property amounted to $6.7 million. There was no fatalities or damage to private property.