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Aircraft Investigation Essay

Each mishap has their own characteristics and there is no substitute for good old-fashioned common sense and initiative. Each wrecked aircraft has its own story to tell if properly investigated. However Air Force guidelines are quick to point out that investigators in their eagerness seek out the causes, often ignore safe investigation practices and common safety precautions. Air Force Investigators are maybe in even more difficult position due to the hazards that are unique to the military war fighting machines, Ill discuss a few of these hazards briefly before I get into the steps of Air Force accident investigations.

Munitions Extreme care must be given to the munitions that may have been on board the aircraft. Just because the ammunition appears to be damaged beyond being dangerous the slightest amount of static electricity from clothing may detonate munitions. Before starting an investigation of any kind, obtain the list of munitions aboard and have the explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) team remove or inert them. Again eagerness must be controlled and situational awareness must be exercised to be on the lookout for those munitions that may not have been recovered.

Also, though tedious, the locations of all munitions need to be noted, as they will hold clues as well. The ejection seats can also present extreme dangers to untrained and careless investigator. Toxins Hydrazine. Its a word that strikes fear in all that are familiar with it. New generation aircraft such as the F-16 use hydrazine for emergency power supplies. It looks like a clear oily substance that smells like ammonia. Some of the effects hydrazine can have on the human body include: liver damage, blindness, skin burns, and prolong exposure may be fatal. Only base bioenvironmental engineers are qualified enough to properly handle it.

Materials Also somewhat unique but is gradually finding its way into the commercial side of aviation is the use of high composite materials along with exotic metals used in the effort to not only strengthen, but to lighten the overall weight of the airframe. The composites used with most frequency today are boron, graphite and Kevlar. Each of these materials has their own characteristics and must be handled with care. While in its finished form Kevlar is very stable, boron and graphite must be handled with extreme care to avoid breathing in dust created when the structures become damaged.

Boron fibers can pierce through skin and stay imbedded indefinitely and cannot be removed easily causing severe infections. Funding Issues The host base funds all in-house support (except billeting) even if the host base is not assigned to the convening authoritys MAJCOM. In-house support includes administrative support and equipment, work areas, reproduction, and graphics. The MAJCOM or ANG command that possesses the mishap aircraft is responsible for all costs associated with the crash site clean up and restoration. (USAF, 1998)

Also an aerodynamics advisor should review and examine the evidence on the airframe and analyze the flight parameters. A life support advisor should examine the egress system and personal and survival gear. And a pilot advisor should be brought in to shed some light on what a pilots action may or should have been. Once all the data and evidence has been evaluated and examined the AIB report can be written. The AIB report should contain factual information, including documentary and testimonial evidence as well as photographs. This report should not include recommendations.

AFI 51-503) Now that we have briefly discussed the way AIB conducts an accident investigation lets see how the SIB conduct their investigations. Once a SIB president has been appointed and a membership assigned. The board members can then move into the scene and begin to search for clues and evidence. Once in the scene investigators can start by searching any electronically stored data such as flight data recorders (FDR), cockpit voice recorders (CVR), nonvolatile memory chips on circuit cards from engine controls, programmable navigation equipment, and other avionics equipment.

Once found they should be sent to the Mishap Analysis and Animation Facility or MAAF at AFSC. MAAF is the central Air Force activity for recovery, transcriptions, and analysis of FDR data in support of Air Force safety investigations. Any data processed based upon privileged safety information or involving board deliberation renders the processed data non-releasable. Next key evidence that should be collected is witness accounts. Usually physical and documented evidence is considered more credible. However, witness accounts are often time excellent leads.

A witness can be anyone involved in the mishap, anyone who saw the accident and those who possess the training and qualifications that make them experts in the subject. A witness can make privileged or non-privileged statements; it is up to the investigator or SIB president to determine if and when to extend a promise of confidentiality. A promise of confidentiality is based upon the category of the mishap and the need for protection of the witness statement. Human factors evidence is also important to a safety investigation.

This type of evidence includes evidence of mental and physical capability and medical opinion about the capability of individuals to return to their duties. When searching for human factors evidence as well as wreckage evidence it is important to document everything properly and accurate. Photographs and video can be extremely handy because they can preserve otherwise perishable evidence. As an investigator you should photograph liberally, but should also be selective and cautious when including photographs in the report. (AFI 91-204,1999) The way in which both boards conduct and carry out their investigations is very similar.

The only thing that differs between the two is the way in which the information gathered from the scene gets used. AIBS goals are to settle the legal side of an accident while a SIB goal is to ensure that the accident does not go in vain and that we can learn from the accident in order to prevent future mishaps and make aviation a bit safer. Missile Mishap Reporting/Investigation Naturally with any aviation accident the investigation to find out what had happened will be similar in methods and even the regulations that were established to conduct those investigations.

The primary subject that separates the military from the ther investigative branches that handle mishap/accident reporting is the involvement of ordinance, mainly missiles. The following section will address the issue of missile mishap reporting/investigation. Definitions: Missile: Systems that are propelled through the air that are unmanned, guided by internal or external systems, self-propelled, and designed to deliver ordnance to a target or act as a target. This definition includes training missiles and sub-scale remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs).

Mishap: An unplanned or unsought event, or series of events, resulting in death, njury, occupational illness or damage to, or loss of, equipment or property. (AFI 91-204,1999) Missile Mishap: which involve missiles that occur: During ground operations (use, maintenance, handling, transportation, and storage). (AFI 91-204,1999) Categorizing The Mishap The most important step in the process is to determine whether or not the mishap is in fact a missile related mishap. You must ask the initial questions that will either lead you to a defined missile mishap or another type of mishap.

Missile mishaps must involve a missile(s) and must occur during ground operations, use, handling, transportation, or torage. Post Launch and On/Off Range Due To Malfunction: Mishaps If the event took place after launch, and the missile does not complete its intended mission because of a missile system malfunction, the investigation will be considered a Aircraft Flight Mishap (missile involvement). However if the missile impacts on/off target in an unsuccessful attempt due to warhead (explosive) malfunction, this will be reported as an Explosive /Missile Mishap.

All other off range impacts is Aircraft Flight/Aircraft Flight Related (Explosives/Missile Involvement). Ground Launched Missiles: Mishaps Mishaps relating to ground launched missiles are also considered missile mishaps. However, when investigating ground-launched missiles, you must report any accidents involving the missile support equipment as missile mishaps. Pre-Launch/In-flight: Mishaps Damage due to or caused by, live or captive missiles or explosives are reported as Aircraft Flight (Explosives/Missile Involvement).

External Explosions: Mishaps Mishaps, which involve missiles that are damaged by explosives external to the missiles are reported as explosives (missile involvement) mishaps. (AFI 91-204,1999) Rocket Related: Mishaps Unplanned events during aging and surveillance test firing of rocket motors are not considered mishaps, unless collateral damage occurs to items other than the rocket motor. (AFI 91-204,1999) Mishap Classification During a missile mishap report/investigation it is very important for the reporting that the mishap is classified under a specified criterion of classification.

This process involves first accessing the cost and damage created by the mishap, and applying that information to the established criteria in order to determine the class of the mishap (a-d). The criteria provided below is quoted from AFI 91-204: Estimating Cost of Mishap: If the intended mission objectives are not met due to the failure of a non-recover- able missile and damage results, report the acquisition cost of the launch vehicle and the acquisition cost of the payload.. Missile Support Equipment: Calculate MSE damage at the full cost of repair or replacement of the property, not counting normal launches residual damage.

Pre-launch Damage: Compute all ground-launch missile pre-launch damage occurring without the missile being launched, to include transportation and storage, at the full cost to replace or repair. These costs will include the direct labor and materials for the repair. Drop Criteria: For missiles or all-up-round components dropped a distance that exceeds the drop criteria in the specific item technical order, estimate the mishap cost at 15 percent of the item replacement cost in the current stock catalog.

After initial mishap class determination, upgrade or downgrade the mishap class only if actual cost can be determined. Upgrade or downgrade can be accomplished after completion of final evaluation. Parachute-recovered Missiles: Include the repair costs or loss involved related o abnormal events or clearly excessive damage. Abnormal events include torn parachutes, late recovery initiation, failure of a parachute to blossom or release, high winds, etc. Excessive damage includes buckling of the main fuselage, fire at impact, destruction of the payload section, etc.

Do not include the cost of expected damage to parachute-recovered missiles resulting solely from surface impact during an otherwise normal recovery sequence is an operational expense and not reportable. Do not include cost of recovery since recovery is normally a mission objective for recoverable missiles. Classification Criteria: Class A Mishap: A mishap resulting in one or more of the following: Reportable damage of $1,000,000 or more. A fatality or permanent total disability.

Class B Mishap: A mishap resulting in one or more of the following: Reportable damage of $200,000 or more but less than $1,000,000. A permanent partial disability. Inpatient hospitalization of three or more personnel. (AFI 91-204,1999) Class C Mishap: A mishap resulting in one or more of the following: Reportable damage between $10,000 and $200,000. An injury resulting in a lost workday case involving 8 hours or more away rom work beyond the day or shift on which it occurred; or occupational illness that causes loss of time from work at any time.

For military personnel, do not count the day of injury or the day returned to duty. Do not count days when military personnel were not scheduled to work. (AFI 91-204,1999) Class D Mishaps: A mishap resulting in one or more of the following: Applies to air-launched missiles only. Total cost of $2,000 or more for property damage but less than $10,000. Property damage includes all government equipment, vehicles, or munitions. (AFI 91-204,1999)

A nonfatal injury that does not meet the definition of a Class C and results in less than eight hours lost time (military lost work hour cases are not included). HAP Events. Significant aircraft, missile, space, explosives, miscellaneous air operations, or ground occurrences with a high potential for causing injury, occupational illness, or damage if they recur. These events do not have reportable mishap costs. If the event meets report-able mishap criteria do not designate it as HAP. Do not use the HAP designation in conjunction with classes of mishap.

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