posted on Aug, 12 2017 @ 12:34 PM
On November 9, 2016 two F-18 Hornet aircraft from Miramar Air Station collided off the coast of California, during a routine training flight. The
aircraft belonged to VMFA-314. One aircraft was being flown by an instructor, the other by a pilot that had joined the squadron 8 days prior.
Prior to the collision, the new pilot (neither was identified) stated he had the other aircraft in sight and was joining up. He told investigators
that he had a hard time acquiring the other aircraft, due to the sun, and when he did get a good visual they were on a collision course. After the
collision, the instructor saw his right wingtip break off and the wing catch fire, as the aircraft went out of control. He ejected safely and was
quickly rescued by a helicopter off the Carl Vinson.
The other aircraft, despite major damage to the wing and stabilator, was able to land at NAS North Island.
Investigators found that the squadron was attempting to cycle as many Category I pilots through the MAG 11 Turkey Shoot as possible, resulting in a
lack of appropriate controls on scheduling. For the Mishap Flight, they found that the flight hadn't been "scheduled, properly prepared for, or
authorized properly". In particular, the student pilot had 10 hours of instrument flying in the pervious six months, and due to a knee injury,
wasn't current. The instructor, in the prior month had 13.3 hours, which was below the 15.7 they were targeting.
This is another result of the poor readiness we're seeing across the fleet. The Hornet was designed with a 6,000 hour life cycle, that is being
pushed to 10,000 or more. But due to maintenance problems as they age, and more down time being required, squadrons are seeing fewer and fewer
aircraft available for training. They're being pushed into the position of giving the green pilots flight time, or their more experienced pilots.
This results in the lower time pilots having to relearn things they had lost due to not flying much, and losing out even more.