Australian Air Force

      Home » Current events and news » Australian Air Force

Australian Air Force

Good Aussie skill

A Royal Australian Air Force jet bomber that crash-landed at its south-east Queensland base was being flown by a pilot who had graduated from flight school only a fortnight ago, the RAAF says.

Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd said the pilot was one of the most junior with the F-111s, having graduated from the basic conversion course two weeks previously.

He was doing an operational upgrade, and flying with one of the nation's most experienced F-111 navigators.

"The fact that he was able to bring the aircraft down in such a very good way, I think bears well the training that we do,'' he said.

As a result of the incident, Australia's fleet of 26 F-111 aircraft have been temporarily grounded by Defence Minister Brendan Nelson.

Dr Nelson said the grounding was necessary to ensure there was nothing structurally wrong with the bombers.

The RAAF has revealed the reason behind the incident was the loss of the plane's main left wheel shortly after take-off.

Speaking to smh.com.au this afternoon, the group captain at the Amberley base near Ipswich, Leo Davies, said the flight tower had watched as something fell from the F-111 as it retracted its wheels.

"In the process of the [landing] gear coming up, the tower told them that they believed something fell off," he said.

"We then had a look at what that it could have been and we found the wheel quite close to the runway."

The plane had taken off on a normal training mission planned for northern NSW and southern Queensland about 10am.

Once the tower alerted the pilot and navigator about the missing wheel and after a two-hour period of planning, involving them dumping fuel in nearby Moreton Bay, they were told to attempt a belly landing.

Group Captain Davies said this was based on the past experience of the US Air Force, which had successful landed an F-111 without its landing gear a few years ago.

The plane completed the landing successfully at Amberley about 2.10pm.

It raised a shower of sparks as it touched down but did not catch fire.

Emergency vehicles immediately surrounded the aircraft as it slid along the runway.

Within seconds of it stopping, its two crew members got out as fire engines sprayed it and the runway with foam.

Group Captain Davies said the pilot and the navigator's run from the plane was planned, so as to allow the firefighters immediate access to the plane.

"They were very focused [and] need to be congratulated on doing a great job."

An RAAF website says the F-111 has a crew of two, the pilot and a navigator who operates the weapons systems.

While some training missions did use live ammunition, this plane had not been equipped with live ammunition. The fuel was not jettisoned to reduce the danger of an explosion, but to allow the plane to cruise in more slowly to landing, he said.

The formal assessment of the damage to the plane needed to be completed, but, at the moment, the RAAF was hopeful it would be back up in the skies again, Group Captain Davies said.

"As soon as we have determined what caused the wheel to come off, and not affect[ing] the rest of the fleet, we'll have the aircraft airborne again.

"We'll have the F-111 around for a few [years] to come and we're flying it quite successfully."

He said the accident today had "no impact whatsoever'' on any plans to withdraw the ageing F-111 - due to be replaced in 2012 by the troubled-plagued F-35 Joint Strike Fighter - from service.


The Duke
By The Duke: posted on 23-7-2006

It was a perfect landing watching the news, but you have to ask yourself how good was it that a wheel fell off initially? Surely someone goofed severely.

I wonder if the underbelly of the planes are armoured making it easier to land on them and not having them break open.
By netchicken: posted on 23-7-2006








Australian Air Force | [Login ]
Powered by XMB
Privacy Policy