No Fan of Shoddy Blades

A fan blade flawed in manufacturing caused the loss of an F-16C during ground-support training over the Utah Test and Training Range on May 4, determined Air Combat Command’s inquest board. Cracking along the manufacturing anomaly at the base of the number 17 fan blade, along with eight years of wear and tear, caused the blade to snap off, leading to “catastrophic damage to the engine fan, compressor, and turbines,” states ACC’s Sept. 6 release outlining the findings of the newly issued accident investigation board report (caution, large-sized file). The pilot “correctly applied” procedures and attempted to restart the engine for 90 seconds before ejecting from the crippled jet, states the report. The pilot was uninjured, but the fighter was destroyed upon ground impact, a loss of some $23.9 million, states the release. Investigators determined that “failure to detect the anomaly” during the engine’s installation inspection in 2004 “substantially contributed” to the crash, according to the release. Both the pilot and F-16 were assigned to the 421st Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB, Utah.