Eglin F-35 Crash Blamed on Landing Speed, but Software, Helmet, Oxygen Also Faulted

Excessive landing speed was the primary cause of the May 19 crash of an F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., though faulty flight control logic, the helmet mounted display, the jet’s oxygen system, and improper training and were all contributing factors, according to an Air Force investigation. An Accident Investigation Board found that the principle reason for the crash was the pilot setting a “speed hold” of 202 knots indicated airspeed for the landing, which was 50 knots too fast, while the jet’s approach angle was too shallow, according to the report released Sept. 30. The second main cause was the tail flight control surfaces “conflicting” with the pilot’s apparently correct efforts to recover the jet after it bounced on the runway, a problem the Air Force said was a “previously undiscovered anomaly in the aircraft’s flight control logic.” The plane and pilot “quickly fell out of sync,” as the flight computer commanded nose down while the pilot commanded nose up, attempting to abort the landing and go around. Sensing that he was being “ignored” by the airplane, the pilot ejected, sustaining significant but non-life-threatening injuries.