The Department of Defense considers any mishap that costs more than $2 million, or results in the total loss of an aircraft, and/or causes a fatality or permanent physical disability to be a Class A mishap. U.S. Air Force aircraft are expensive to buy, and damages cost a lot of money to fix. Here is a look at some Air Force mishaps, and how they impact those involved.

 

B-2 Spirit Loss

In 2008, a B-2 Spirit crash-landed at Anderson AFB, Guam. As a total loss, the mishap cost over one billion dollars. Look at that again: one billion dollars. That single accident took almost five percent of the B-2 fleet away, forever. Was it battle damage that caused the crash? Maybe shoddy maintenance played a part? Were the pilots intoxicated, too tired to fly, or showboating? None of the above.

Heavy rain was the culprit. B-2 is an aircraft that needs a climate-controlled hangar to live in. Moisture built up under the aircraft’s skin panels that contain sensors. Those sensors then fed erroneous data to the flight control systems, which caused the jet to rotate for takeoff just 12 knots slower than it should have. That’s only a little over 13 mph, slower than the speed required for a school zone. That lower speed caused the Spirit to not have enough airflow over the wings to generate the required lift.