HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The Air Force has determined the cause of the mishap that killed a Langley-Eustis-based airman and another pilot last January in Afghanistan.
The crew accidentally shut down their one working engine on the E-11A plane when their other engine catastrophically failed during the flight in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, Air Combat Command said in their accident investigation board report released Thursday.
Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, and Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30, died in the incident on Jan. 27, 2020. Voss was originally from Yigo, Guam, and was stationed at Headquarters Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. He was just 17 days away from coming home when he died.
The pilots were conducting a combat sortie in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Air Combat Command says, operating as “Wi-Fi in the sky” to relay information between ground and air troops.
The board said that both the cockpit voice recorder and the digital flight data recorder in plane stopped recording for the majority of the mishap, so the direct evidence of certain events couldn’t be fully determined, but the crew erred by not airstarting the right, working engine and trying to recover the aircraft to Kandahar Airfield, which was too far away (230 nautical miles).
The failure of the left engine happened 1 hour and 45 minutes into the flight when a fan blade broke free. The crew shut down the right engine about 24 seconds later, the board found.
“This tragic accident and the loss of these two Airmen will not be forgotten,” said Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command. “These Airmen gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to the nation while deployed supporting an overseas combat mission. They should be recognized and remembered for their dedication and bravery.”
To read the full report, click here.