Three substantially contributing factors caused the crash of an MQ-1B Predator operating in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, April 28, 2015, according to an Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board report released today.
The board president found, by a preponderance of evidence, that improper frequency selection, degradation of the ground data terminal transmitter output, and a delay of critical action procedures were substantially contributing factors to the mishap. The aircraft was operated by personnel from the 20th Reconnaisance Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Total losses are estimated at $4.66 million. No injuries, deaths or damages to private property were reported.
The investigation notes the mishap pilot failed to switch from the default frequency to the assigned operating frequency which, when combined with other transmitters operating in the area, created a cluttered frequency environment. Immediately following take-off, the aircraft lost sufficient uplink signal and was not responsive to commands. Negative habit transfer indicated the mishap sensor operator was slow to execute critical action procedures.