The fatal crash of a U.S. Air Force special-mission Bombardier Global Express on Jan. 27, 2020, was caused by the flight crew’s error in determining which Rolls-Royce BR710 engine had catastrophically failed and subsequently shutting down the working, right-hand-side powerplant, according to a USAF Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AIB) report released yesterday. Contributing factors were the crew’s failure to airstart the right-hand-side engine and their decision to “recover the aircraft to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.”
Designated as E-11A by the USAF, the aircraft suffered an in-flight failure of the left engine one hour and 45 minutes after takeoff. A fan blade broke free from the left engine, causing the left engine to shut down. “Approximately 24 seconds after the initial incident, the crew shut down the right, and only operable, engine, resulting in a dual-engine-out emergency,” the USAF said. “The aircraft was approximately 230 nm from Kandahar Airfield when the dual engine out occurred, and neither engine airstarted to provide any usable thrust.”
The crew issued a mayday call to air traffic control stating they had dual engine failure and intended to proceed to Kandahar. However, the jet was outside of the gliding distance to reach Kandahar and, because of the crew’s decision to return there, flew outside of gliding distance to other available landing locations. The crew subsequently attempted to glide toward Forward Operating Base Sharana but landed in a field approximately 21 nm short of this base. Both pilots were killed and the aircraft was destroyed.
Due to aircraft vibrations and the dual engine failure, both the cockpit voice recorder and the digital flight data recorder stopped recording for the majority of the accident sequence.