Pilot error and a propeller malfunction caused an armed MQ-1B Predator to crash into the Afghanistan countryside last fall, according to an accident report released today.
During a surveillance mission out of Jalalabad Air Base on Oct. 26, the piloting crew received a high temperature caution message about 10 hours into the mission, indicating a problem with the aircraft’s propeller that controls pitch.
The propeller failed in flight, giving the crew limited control. While trying to fix the issue, the aircraft’s pilot adjusted the controls to reverse thrust, causing a loss in momentum, which blocked the Predator from returning to base. The pilot was then directed to crash the aircraft.
The Predator and one air-to-ground AGM-114 Hellfire missile — a combined value of around $4.6 million — were destroyed in the crash. There were no injuries or damage to property.
The Predator was flown by a crew from the 432d Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.
An Accident Investigation Board found the crash was caused by the mechanical failure of the motor and the pilot making unnecessary movements of the propeller level. Additionally, the board found insufficient checklist guidance and incorrect simulator training contributed to the crash.