Saturday, June 07, 2008

Up in Smoke

Remember that crash of a B-2 stealth bomber in February? Apparently it was caused by, of all things, humidity.
The Air Force said the first crash of a B-2 stealth bomber was caused by moisture in sensors and estimated the loss of the aircraft at $1.4 billion.

The crash probably could have been avoided if knowledge of a technique to evaporate the moisture had been disseminated throughout the B-2 program, Maj. Gen. Floyd L. Carpenter, who headed an accident investigation board, said Thursday.

Water distorted preflight readings in three of the plane's 24 sensors, making the aircraft's control computer force the B-2 to pitch up on takeoff, resulting in a stall and subsequent crash.
I didn't know there was a video of the crash, but here it is. You'll see the lead B-2 take off first, giving you an idea of what a normal take off profile looks like. Then you'll see ill-fated #2 take the runway. The second #2 gets airborne it's obvious something is wrong, as his angle of attack is far too great, his wings are waggling in a classic stall, and he's sinking instead of climbing. Then the left wingtip drags on the ground, the bomber pulls left, the pilots eject safely, and kaboom.

It's basically a power-on stall... in a $1.4 billion airplane.

Go ahead and check out the video. You know you're curious to see what $1.4 billion looks like when it burns. :)

No comments: