Two A-10C’s collided over the Nevada Test and Training Range Sept 6, 2017, due to the unintentional failure to adhere to established altitude and deconfliction procedures, according to Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released April 12.
Both pilots ejected and suffered minor injuries, and both aircraft were destroyed upon impact. The cost of the accident is estimated at over $30 million.
The pilots were conducting a night, close air support training mission as part of the Weapons Instructor Course qualification for pilot one with pilot two as the instructor of record when the incident occurred.
Pilot one climbed above the assigned altitude block during a series of commands and did not hear the audible notification signaling the altitude climb and therefore did not radio-in to deconflict established altitude blocks. This caused pilot one’s aircraft to enter the altitude space designated for pilot two.
Pilot two did not have line of sight on pilot one when the collision occurred. The midair collision rendered both aircraft uncontrollable and both pilots ejected.
In addition to unintentional failure to adhere to established altitude deconfliction procedures, investigators also found task over-saturation, misperception of changing environment, breakdown in visual scan and environmental conditions affecting vision to be other substantial contributing factors that led to this mishap.