Turbocharger Failure Led to Predator Crash

The failure of an engine turbocharger caused the crash of an MQ-1B Predator in May, according to an abbreviated accident investigation board report released Oct. 19. The Predator, assigned to the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech AFB, Nev., was doing launch and recovery operations at the base when it crashed on May 1. No one was injured and no private property was damaged, but the remotely piloted aircraft was significantly damaged with estimated losses at $4.5 million. The crash happened after the turbocharger seized, preventing the Predator from gaining altitude and clearing terrain along the flight path, according to the report. The turbocharger failed because of a malfunctioning turbocharger lubrication system, the report found.