Friday, August 19, 2016

Experimental Douglas T4-4K, Draken International Inc., N140EM: Accident occurred August 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada


FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Las Vegas FSDO-19

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA166
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Thursday, August 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV
Aircraft: DOUGLAS TA-4K, registration: N140EM
Injuries: 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 18, 2016, about 0739 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Douglas T4-4K, N140EM was destroyed when it collided with the ground following a reported loss of engine power shortly after entering the traffic pattern at Nellis Air Force Base (LSV) Las Vegas, Nevada. The airline transport pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by Draken International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Defense as a public aircraft in support of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a military flight plan was filed for the simulated combat training flight. The local flight originated about 0620. 

According to the pilot, he was the lead airplane of a flight of two, returning to LSV after completion of their area work. He led the formation to the overhead pattern and shortly after the break to downwind, the airplane experienced a loss of engine power. The pilot at first initiated a turn towards the airport; however, he realized that he was unable to make the runway and consequently turned left towards a field and then initiated ejection. The airplane subsequently struck terrain and was consumed by fire.

Examination of the accident site by a National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge revealed that the airplane came to rest on its right side after breeching a stone wall, about 1 mile north of the approach end of runway 21R. All major components of the airplane were located in the wreckage.

The airplane wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.


A Vietnam War-era attack jet operated by a military contractor crashed about a mile from Nellis Air Force Base Thursday, but the pilot ejected and survived with nonlife-threatening injuries, a spokesman for the contractor said.

The aircraft was a Douglas A-4K Skyhawk, one of 10 of the A-4 jets at Nellis used to portray adversaries in Air Force Weapons School and Red Flag air combat exercises, said Scott Poteet, director of business development for U.S. Air Force Programs for the contractor, Draken International.

He said the jet that crashed at 7:40 a.m. was returning along with another A-4 from a weapons school mission over the Nevada Test and Training Range north of the Las Vegas Valley.

The jet that crashed had made its initial approach to the base prior to landing, he said, and was flying toward the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when it went down near North Sloan Lane and East Ann Road, north of the base.

Poteet said witnesses saw two parachutes even though the pilot was the only person in the aircraft. First responders transported the pilot, whom he declilned to identify, to the base’s medical center, where he was treated for minor injuries.

“All these pilots are highly trained. We’re all former Air Force, Marine and Navy fighter pilots that have extensive experience. In fact, he is one of the most experienced pilots in our squadron,” said Poteet, himself a former pilot with the Thunderbirds air demonstration team at Nellis.

During the Vietnam War, A-4 Skyhawks were flown primarily by the Navy.

Poteet said there were no munitions on the aircraft.

Nellis spokeswoman Lea Green said the crash site is a privately owned, mostly vacant lot. The aircraft impacted a cinder block wall, causing a portion of it to tumble down, she said.

Poteet wouldn’t speculate on the cause of the accident or whether the company’s A-4 fleet will be grounded.

“It’s obviously up to the Nellis leadership and Draken leadership as far as what measures we’re going to take at this point,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board are conducting a joint probe to determine what caused the accident.

A Nellis statement said the crash site “is contained and the aircraft poses no threat to the community or natural resources.”

“Thankfully there were no injuries on the ground,” it said.

Metropolitan and North Las Vegas police were among the local agencies responding to the crash site.

The last military aircraft accident in Southern Nevada was June 7 when an unmanned MQ-9 Reaper drone from Creech Air Force Base crashed during a training mission 20 miles northwest of the 215 Beltway.

The last fatal crash involving an aircraft out of Nellis Air Force Base was June 28, 2011, when Capt. Eric Ziegler was killed when his F-16C crashed on public land near the test and training range.

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