A mechanical failure of the left tail clamp and/or tail clamp bolts caused an MQ-1B Predator to crash Nov. 8, 2015 in the U.S. Central Command Area of responsibility, according to an Air Combat Command Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board report released Nov. 21.
The MQ-1B was assigned to the 432nd Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., and operated by a launch and recovery element from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron from a deployed location in the AOR.
The AAIB found that the failure of the left tail clamp and/or tail clamp bolts resulted in the airborne loss of the left tail insert and attached left tail. This loss resulted in an unrecoverable departure from controlled flight.
This failure occurred while the mishap pilot was flying the aircraft and conducting the Arrival checklist. When the pilot alternated left and right inputs, additional mechanical and aerodynamic loads broke a weakened or failing left tail clamp or tail clamp bolt, liberating the left tail from the aircraft. This caused the MQ-1B to depart controlled fight. The mishap pilot recognized the out-of-control situation and attempted to recover the aircraft for the remaining 27 second before impact.
The aircraft was destroyed on impact, with a loss valued at approximately $5.3 million.There were no injuries or damage to other government or private property.