B-2 Crash Cause

Water intrusion in air-data sensors is being pegged as the cause of the B-2 bomber crash during takeoff Feb. 23 from Andersen AFB, Guam, according to a top Air Force official. The skin-flush sensors, which collect information about air pressure and density, much like a pitot tube on a conventional aircraft, provide angle-of-attack and yaw data to the B-2’s computerized flight control system. After heavy, lashing rains, water got into the sensors and caused them to give faulty readings to the flight control system, the official said. As a result, the aircraft’s computers determined—based on the bogus data—that the aircraft was in an improper attitude and corrected automatically. The B-2 made a sudden pitch-up and yaw that was not commanded by the pilot. The aircraft quickly stalled, became unrecoverable, and the crew of two ejected. The aircraft was a total loss. The crash led to a 53-day safety pause during which there were no B-2 flights. Air Combat Command has already made adjustments to the flight control systems to prevent further accidents and is looking at ways to seal the sensors better. A full accident investigation report is expected soon.