Saturday, May 15, 2021

Loss of Control in Flight: General Atomics MQ-9B, CBP213: accident occurred May 15, 2020 at San Angelo Regional Airport (KSJT), Tom Green County, Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock, Texas

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Location: San Angelo, Texas
Accident Number: CEN20CA178
Date & Time: May 15, 2020, 10:26 Local 
Registration: CBP213
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight 
Injuries: N/A
Flight Conducted Under: Public aircraft


The pilot of the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) attempted a touch-and-go landing but then performed a go-around due to an unstable approach. The pilot re-entered the UAS into the traffic pattern for a second touch-and-go landing attempt, during which it initially touched down nose first and induced a porpoise. During the third porpoise, the UAS contacted the runway in a nose-down attitude resulting in a hard landing and post-crash fire. The UAS was destroyed by the post-crash fire. There was no mechanical malfunction / failure of the UAS at the time of the accident.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain an adequate landing flare that resulted in a porpoise and impact with terrain.


Aircraft Pitch control - Not attained/maintained

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing-flare/touchdown Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Landing-flare/touchdown Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Flight instructor 
Age: 36, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied:
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane 
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane single-engine 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: February 3, 2020
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: January 16, 2020
Flight Time: 4629 hours (Total, all aircraft)

Other flight crew Information

Certificate: Age:
Airplane Rating(s): 
Seat Occupied: None
Other Aircraft Rating(s): 
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): 
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: 
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: CBP213
Model/Series: MQ-9B 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2011 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Certificate of authorization or waiver (COA)
Serial Number: Unknown
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 0
Date/Type of Last Inspection: February 24, 2020 Continuous airworthiness
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 10500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: Turbo prop
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Honeywell
Engine Model/Series: TPE331-10YGD
Registered Owner:
Rated Power:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: SJT,1919 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 10:20 Local
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility 9 miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2500 ft AGL 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 190° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 20°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: San Angelo, TX (SJT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: San Angelo, TX (SJT) 
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Airport: San Angelo Regional/Mathis Field SJT
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 1919 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 18
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 8049 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Touch and go

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: N/A 
Latitude, Longitude: 31.357778,-100.496391(est)

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