F-15D Crash Cause Determined

A combination of pilot missteps and aircraft anomalies caused the crash of a two-seat F-15D fighter in July during a Red Flag training exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev., Air Combat Command announced Monday. The pilot in command, Lt. Col. Thomas Bouley, who led the 65th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis, died in the mishap, while the observer pilot, a Royal Air Force flight lieutenant, sustained only minor injuries. Based on the findings of the accident investigation board, ACC said Bouley executed a maneuver that momentarily exceeded a technical order limitation that is in place when the F-15D carries external fuel tanks. This maneuver, coupled with fuel imbalance in the two external fuel tanks, led the aircraft to enter a violent and prolonged spin that was exacerbated by an imperfection in the aircraft’s nosecone. The pilot became spatially disoriented, necessitating ejection. The observer pilot ejected first from the aircraft’s backseat and survived. Bouley ejected 0.4 seconds later and did not. The aircraft, worth $38 million, was lost, ACC said.