Marine Officials Blame Bad Choices In Fatal F/A-18 Crash

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In California on Tuesday, Marine officials held a news conference to explain their findings in the December crash of an F/A-18 that killed four people on the ground. The officials blamed "a series of well-intentioned but incorrect decisions" by the pilot and his advisors. Nine people were reprimanded and four were relieved of duty. The airplane had a known fuel-flow problem and should have been grounded, officials said, and once the in-flight emergency occurred, the pilot and ground crew should have opted to land at North Island, a nearby airfield with an over-water approach. "Landing at North Island was the prudent and correct decision to make," said Col. John Rupp at the news conference. "Unfortunately, that decision was never made." The FAA released a tape of the conversation between the pilot and ATC in which the North Island option was offered and the pilot chose to head for Miramar, which is further inland. (Click here to listen to AVweb's podcast of the ATC audio).

Lt. Dan Neubauer had just taken off from the USS Abraham Lincoln on a training flight when the right engine on the aircraft failed. He was heading for Miramar on one engine when the other one quit. He ejected at 2,200 feet, two miles short of the runway. A mother, grandmother and two young children were killed in one of the houses hit by the falling fighter.