Last Year's B-52 Bomber Crash In Guam Caused By Bird Strikes

U.S. Air Force releases investigative report of accident at Andersen base

By John I Borja

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 26, 2017) – A U.S. Air Force investigative report on the B-52 Stratofortress that crashed last May at Andersen Air Force Base concluded bird activity and high oil pressure caused the accident.

The B-52 was assigned to the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, which was deployed to Andersen from North Dakota for a routine training mission. It was attempting to take off at the base before it crashed.

All flight crew members were accounted for and treated for minor injuries, but the aircraft suffered $112 million worth of damage, according to the report.

After the B-52 was cleared for takeoff, the aircraft’s pilots and navigator saw birds flying on the same level as the B-52’s wings. The copilot then felt several thuds on the aircraft’s right side. Following that observation, the crew observed that three of their engines were either failing or functioning as “sub-optimal.” A fourth engine had high oil pressure indications, the report states.

Upon realizing the malfunctioning engines, the pilot initiated emergency procedures to abort the takeoff. A drag chute was deployed to slow the aircraft, but it immediately ruptured. The aircraft also experienced brake failure because it exceeded its braking limits. The aircraft slid 300 feet from the runway to its resting place and caught on fire, according to the report.

Incidents with birds

The accident report states millions of dollars are lost each year due to aircraft collisions involving birds and other wildlife.

The Air Force gauges when bird activity may interfere with flights throughout the year, based on migratory patterns. Migratory birds in the area — like the island collared dove and the yellow bittern — are studied for a program to help limit unwanted interactions between aircraft and wildlife, the report states.

At the time of the crash, there was a low potential for the aircraft to fly into birds, according to the report.

Heavy bomber

The B-52 Stratofortress is about 159 feet long with a wingspan of about 185 feet. The report describes the aircraft as a “long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber.”

It has the capacity to hold up to 70,000 pounds of weapons and can travel more than 8,800 miles before it needs to be refueled, according to the report.

According to Pacific Daily News files, Andersen Air Force Base’s leadership said the B-52 was only carrying “inert munitions” during the crash and that the munitions did not pose a threat to the community.

Pacific Daily News
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