Human Factors Caused F-22 Crash

The pilot’s delayed ability to recover his test F-22 from a high-G maneuver due to his near loss of consciousness and lack of situational awareness ultimately led to the aircraft crashing and the pilot’s death during a flight test on March 25 at Edwards AFB, Calif., Air Force Materiel Command said today in releasing the findings of its accident investigation report. After a recovery attempt failed, Lockheed Martin test pilot, David Cooley, ejected from the aircraft, but sustained fatal, blunt force trauma due to the speed of the aircraft and windblast, the AIB found. The F-22 was destroyed upon impact, resulting in $155 million in total damage, including $140 for the aircraft and $15 million for property restoration and the cost of damage to other equipment. The AIB concluded that the F-22, which was assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards, was functioning normally and that “there were no design or airworthiness issues that would impact the safe operation of the F-22 fleet.” According to the findings, Cooley had completed two of three planned high-G maneuver tests successfully. It was during his third test run that he appeared to have been subjected to increased physiological stressors due to the high Gs. “The loss of Mr. Cooley is tragic and keenly felt by everyone who knew him,” said Maj. Gen. David Eidsaune, AFMC’s director of air, space, and information operations, who led the AIB. He added, “Our thoughts and prayers continue to include the Cooley family.” (AFMC release ) (AIB report)