Pilot Error Caused Creech Reaper Crash

An MQ-9 Reaper assigned to the 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., crashed on Dec. 11, 2014, when an instructor pilot directed a student to pitch the nose of the aircraft down on a training sortie, increasing the rate of descent over elevated terrain leading to its crash, according to an Air Combat Command accident report, released Aug. 4. The Reaper was flying a launch and recovery mission at the time of the incident. The crew performed 10 practice approaches to a landing, but on the final approach the pilot pitched the nose down. Neither the instructor nor the student accounted for an increased descent rate or the aircraft’s relative location to high ground. Neither pilot was able to prevent the crash despite several failed attempts to pull the Reaper up and out of its descent. The remotely piloted aircraft, valued at $11.3 million, was destroyed on impact, according to ACC officials. Earlier this week, the Air Force released a report on another MQ-9 crash, which took place in US Central Command just one day after the Creech crash. In that incident, investigators determined a malfunctioning starter-generator and lack of battery power prevented the landing gear from ?lowering, causing the aircraft to crash. (Read Air Combat Command’s release.)