Moisture confused sensors in B-2 crash / The most expensive crash in Air Force history

More photos released of Guam B-2 crash

Moisture confused sensors in B-2 crash

By Bruce Rolfsen - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jun 9, 2008 9:49:55 EDT

The most expensive crash in Air Force history — the $1.4 billion loss of a B-2 Spirit bomber 
Feb. 23 — was caused by water clogging aircraft sensors, according to an Air Combat Command report issued Thursday.

Moisture in three of the 24 sensors that feed information into the bomber’s computer system caused the sensors to send bad information about the plane’s speed and altitude, and how far up or down the bomber’s nose was pointed.

As the jet took off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the onboard computer thought the B-2 was pointed downward, causing the nose to jerk suddenly upward

The two pilots couldn’t regain control of the bomber and as the left wing struck the runway, the pilots safely ejected.

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The investigation didn’t fault the performance of pilots Maj. Ryan Link and Capt. Justin Grieve, both assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The report also cleared maintainers of any missteps.

Maintainers were aware that high humidity on Guam could result in sensors clogging up with water but thought the sensor problems were solved prior to takeoff. Also, the pilots saw no avionics readings that would have led to aborting the takeoff.