ERJ staff report (DS)
Balad, Iraq -- An official US military investigation into the destruction on take-off of an F-16 fighter jet has concluded the incident was caused by poor pressure maintenance of the tyre on the nosewheel. The incident occurred at around 16:50 local time on July 15, 2007 at Balad Air Base in Iraq.
The tyre exploded as the pilot was accelerating for take-off. At around 144 knots (267 kph) , the wheel ran over a cable on the runway and exploded. The pilot noted a noise and rapid deceleration. He subsequently ejected and the plane eventually crashed off the end of the runway and burst into flame.
The report notes that the nosewheel had been replaced shortly before the incident and no-one had checked the tyre pressure. Evidence from the scene showed that the tyre failed due to under-inflation. A few moments after the tyre failed, the nosewheel strut collapsed. Photographs taken prior to take-off showed that the nosewheel tyre was badly under-inflated.
The value of the aircraft, ordnance and equipment was estimated to be $24.02 million. The report notes there was no property damage or injuries to military or civilian personnel except for minor runway scrapes.
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Incident report from US Military