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Air Force: Series of errors led to Reaper crash in Nev.

Apr. 9, 2013 - 02:31PM   |  
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LAS VEGAS — A series of errors, including a pilot's failure to properly complete a pre-flight check, led to the crash of an unmanned drone aircraft in December in a remote area north of Las Vegas, Air Force officials said Tuesday.

A 35-page report details the causes behind the Dec. 5 crash, which resulted in a $9.6 million loss for the government but no injuries.

"The pilot conducting the pre-flight inspection did not execute all parts of the checklist required to identify that the throttle was functioning properly," officials from the Air Combat Command said in a statement.

It wasn't immediately clear Tuesday whether anyone has been disciplined for the mishap, according to a Nellis spokeswoman.

The MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, which was assigned to the 57th Wing at the base, was on a surveillance mission as part of the crew's final exercise in the Air Force Weapons School.

Investigators said contracted technicians had improperly configured throttle settings when they made changes on the aircraft the day earlier. That mistake wasn't caught because the pilot going through a pre-flight checklist didn't correctly follow procedures, according to the report.

During the flight, the throttle didn't work as it was supposed to, and the drone slowed down and crashed in an unpopulated area northeast of Mount Irish. Nellis officials said at the time that the crash didn't pose a hazard to the nearby towns of Hiko and Alamo.

A guided bomb unit and a training missile were destroyed, along with the drone itself.

Any decisions about discipline will be made by base officials, according to Master Sgt. Randy Red, a spokesman at the Air Combat Command Public Affairs Office that released the report.

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