Friday, February 26, 2021

'Red Air' Mirage F1B, N601AX: Accident occurred February 25, 2021 at Tyndall Air Force Base (KPAM), Panama City, Florida

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.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama 
Airborne Tactical Advantage Company

Airborne Tactical Advantage Company LLC

Location: Panama City, FL
Accident Number: ERA21LA138
Date & Time: February 25, 2021, 11:26 Local 
Registration: N601AX
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Public aircraft
On February 25, 2021, about 1126 central standard time, a Dassault Aviation Mirage F1B, N601AX, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Tyndall Air Force Base (PAM), Panama City, Florida. Both commercial rated pilot’s sustained serious injuries. The airplane was operated by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company as a public aircraft.
The planned 1 hour 15 minutes long flight was in support of the Performance Work Statement for Combat Air Forces Contracted Air Support for the United States Air Force and was intended to certify the front seat pilot as a mission instructor pilot.
According to preliminary information either from the pilot or data downloaded from an APP on his iPad, he initiated takeoff on the left side of runway 14R with the nose gear steering selected to lo. A line speed check was performed at 100 knots when the flight was before the Barrier Arresting Kit 12 (BAK-12) arresting cable; everything was acceptable at that time. The takeoff roll continued and at about 125 knots, which was just after the BAK-12 arresting cable, the pilot reported, “there was this huge swerve to the left and it was an instantaneous swerve.” He applied full right rudder input and tapped the right brake. The airplane drifted towards the left edge of the runway and the pilot applied aft elevator input, got airborne, and remained in the same configuration (flaps and slats full, gear down), staying below 200 knots. He flew south over the water where he orbited numerous times to burn fuel and conducted the checklist for blown tires. He also performed a brake check and the left brake light illuminated. He turned the anti-skid off but the nose gear steering remained activated because there were no caution lights and he attributed the issue to be related to blown MLG tires. He added that the rear seater thought the problem was attributed to be a full left deflection “hardover” of the nose gear steering. The pilot of a chase airplane reported to him that both main landing gear struts appeared equally extended and there were no “shards of rubber” on the runway, but he (accident pilot) was not fully confident in the provided information.
After burning fuel and coordinating, he returned to PAM entering the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern for runway 14L, with the intention of landing to the right side of the runway. He turned onto base and final legs of the airport traffic pattern and touched down near the right edge of the runway. 

When the main landing gears contacted the runway the rear seater deployed the airframe drag chute. He put the nose down as soon as he landed, and he reported he did not feel a tug at that time, but he did feel a significant pull to the left which occurred fast after he relaxed left wing up control input. He applied full right rudder and brake but centered the rudder pedals before leaving the runway. He applied after burner (AB) about the point the airplane was leaving the runway and did not recall how long he was in AB for; the drag chute was not released. At some point during the runway excursion, the rear seater ejected, but the pilot’s ejection seat did not. The airplane came to rest upright and he secured the engine, but because of his injury he could not get out of the airplane.
Examination of runway 14R revealed damage to several runway lights. Recovered debris on the runway from the airplane consisted of an anti-skid electrical connector associated with the right main landing gear. Tire marks on both runways, grass, and taxiway were examined and documented.
Post-accident examination of the airplane revealed the nose landing gear was collapsed aft. The sequence unit selector valve in the front cockpit was selected to “Dual.” The front ejection seat was made safe before the airplane was recovered. Following recovery, examination revealed damage to the airframe attachment of the nose landing gear actuator, and also to the adjacent front seat lower ejection gun seat mount. Examination of the nose gear steering system was performed by representatives of the operator and the current supporter of the airplane with oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration. Several wires associated with the nose gear steering were found cut consistent with collapse of the nose landing gear and the impact sequence. The wires were either temporarily repaired or a jumper wire was installed to facilitate operational testing of the nose gear steering system. Using auxiliary electrical and hydraulic units, with the nose landing gear (NLG) weight-on-wheels (WOW) switch activated and the nose gear steering set to lo, the nose landing gear went uncommanded to the left 45°, which was inconsistent with the switch position, rudder pedal position, and system design. When the NLG WOW was de-activated, the steering returned to neutral. This was repeated several times with the same results. The distribution block which sustained impact damage to a cover was removed which revealed damage to a bearing race and bearing that was not in the impact damaged area. The distribution block was retained for examination and testing.
Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information
Registration: N601AX
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan
Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAM,17 ft msl 
Observation Time: 11:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C /17°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 250°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.17 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Panama City, FL
Destination: Panama City, FL
Wreckage and Impact Information
Crew Injuries: 2 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 30.071363,-85.568849

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