Pilot Error Caused A-10 Mishap

US Air Forces in Europe investigators conclusively determined that pilot error, stemming from spatial disorientation, caused an A-10C assigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, to crash north of Laufeld, Germany, last April. Returning from a training sortie, the pilot descended into poor visibility at 5,500 feet in altitude, flying in close formation with the lead A-10, according to the accident investigation board’s findings. The pilot lost visual contact with his flight leader on approach to the runway and executed an incomplete maneuver to establish a safe distance between the aircraft, states the AIB’s newly issued report. The pilot became disoriented and could not recover the aircraft before ejecting at 600 feet, states the report. The pilot’s parachute only partially deployed and because of this, he was badly injured in the mishap, states the report. Factors like meteorological conditions and procedural error contributed to the crash, states the report. Loss of the A-10 is estimated at $16.1 million. (Spangdahlem release) (AIB report executive summary) (AIB full report; caution, large-sized file.)