Navy: Dual-Engine Failure Caused April Fighter Crash

A Navy official says the double-engine failure that brought down a fighter jet is rare.

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Navy Plane Crash
The scene of a jet crash is covered in foam on Friday, April 6, 2012, in Virginia Beach, Va. Two Navy pilots ejected from a fighter jet, sending the unmanned plane careening into a Virginia Beach apartment complex and tearing the roof off at least one building that was engulfed in flames.

A rare engine malfunction caused a Navy fighter jet to crash in April, and the pilots will not face disciplinary action.

The Navy announced Monday that both jet engines failed and caused an F/A-18D Super Hornet to lose power about one minute into its flight and slam into a Virginia Beach, Va., apartment complex.

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The jet's two pilots ejected at the last possible moment, with the Hornet just 50 feet off the ground, Naval Air Force Atlantic commander Rear Adm. Ted Branch said during a press briefing Monday. Both pilots survived, as did all residents of the 27 destroyed apartments. Branch gave no indication that the crew did anything wrong.

The Navy was unable to say what caused of the dual-engine failure since the jet was so badly burned in the April 6 crash. But mentions a possible fuel delivery failure.

The officer who led an investigation into the crash looked into the flight crew's initial opinion that a vibration was likely a blown tire. The pilots first noticed a problem while the jet was still on the ground, but attributed the problem to a blown tire.

Branch said during the briefing the pilots's reaction "was reasonable and appropriate." The F/A-18D was leaving Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., on a routine training flight, according to the Navy.

Senior service officials have directed that a new procedure be considered that would change what pilots should do upon losing thrust during takeoff, states the Navy report. The service also has made "adjustments" to flight similulators so aviators can practice ways to avoid similar mishaps.

John T. Bennett covers national security and foreign policy for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter.

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