NTSB Identification: DCA09FA009
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Thursday, November 06, 2008 in Sierra Vista, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/22/2010
Aircraft: GENERAL ATOMICS MQ-9, registration: CBP113
Injuries: 7 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

At the time of the accident, the flight was operating as a training evaluation mission for a Launch-Recovery Element (LRE) checkride, performing a sequence of touch and go landings on runway 26. The accident landing was the first during this session using the Multi-Spectral Targeting Ball (MTS-B) payload camera vice the fixed nose camera. The payload camera, located about 3 feet lower than the fixed nose camera, produces a different angle and field of view. Additionally, the payload camera is gyro stabilized for mission requirements and gives a different visual perception during landing. The flare during the accident landing was initiated closer to the runway and to less of a nose up attitude than normal. The aircraft bounced and contacted the runway four times, the magnitude of the bounces and pitch excursions dynamically increasing until the nosewheel fractured and the aircraft began to slide. During the bounces, the pilot began to initiate a go-around and at the same time, the evaluator pilot took hold of the control stick in an attempt to correct the bounces; however, the corrective action was too late to prevent the accident. There was no evidence of any pre-existing damage to the nose gear components and no anomalies in the flight controls.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the failure of the pilot to timely flare the aircraft to the appropriate attitude, likely associated with the different sight picture after switching cameras, resulting in a bounced landing; and the evaluator pilot’s lack of timely recognition and intervention. Contributing to the accident was the lack of standards and criteria in the Customs and Border Protection initial and recurrent training program for use of the MTS-B camera.

Full narrative available

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