Engine Failure Caused Predator Crash

The MQ-1B Predator that crashed May 27, 2015, in the Central Command area of responsibility experienced engine failure because of a loss of engine coolant, although interference during the engine overheat checklist contributed to the failure, an investigation found. The remotely piloted aircraft, operated by the 20th Reconnaissance Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo., took off May 27 for a mission in the Central Command AOR with no problems, but four hours into the flight, the coolant temperature plummeted while the cylinder head temperature spiked. The pilot turned the aircraft around to return to base about five minutes after the first warning indication. However, the crew airman had been running through the engine overheat checklist and was distracted when the engine oil temperature went out of limits and the pilot began returning the RPA to base, so the airman did not turn the engine cooling fan to “manual” and then “on.” The pilot also did not verify that the fan was on, so it remained in the automatic position the entire flight, never turning on sufficiently, according to the investigation. By the time the engine stopped working, the aircraft was unrecoverable, so the pilot was told to fly it into the ground, according to the report. The wreckage was not recovered. (Read the full report.)