Investigation Continues into B-1 Crash

B-1The Air Force continued its investigation into Monday’s B-1 bomber crash near Broadus, Mont., even after the 28th Bomb Wing commander ended the stand down for the wing’s B-1 fleet.

Questions remain over what caused the bomber to go down, but Col. Kevin Kennedy, 28th Bomb Wing commander, is confident after the wing inspected each B-1 that the Lancers could return to normal flight operations. The wing also said there was no evidence of fleet-wide problems.

“With no evidence of fleet-wide problems, it is important that we resume flying and keep proficient at our primary mission,” said  Col. Brooks McFarland, 28th Maintenance Group commander.

All four crew members ejected before the B-1 crash. The Air Force identified the two pilots and two weapons systems officers as Maj. Frank Biancardi II, an instructor pilot, Capt. Curtis Michael, an instructor pilot, Capt. Chad Nishizuka, an instructor weapons system officer, and Capt. Brandon Packard, an instructor weapons system officer.

What’s notable is the title each crew member has earned — instructor. This was not a rookie crew, it is one with enough experience and skills to train younger pilots. Wing officials described the mission the crew was flying as a routine training mission before the crash.

The last time a B-1 was destroyed in a crash was 2001 when a B-1 crashed into the Indian Ocean. A cause of the crash was never determined and all four crew members safely ejected.

The most recent B-1 to be destroyed was 2008 when a B-1 caught fire after landing at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. In the past ten years, the B-1 fleet has experienced 14 Class A mishaps.

The Air Force had 65 B-1 Lancers in its bomber fleet. During the Cold War, the B-1 carried nuclear weapons before it was converted to a strictly conventional bomber in the 1990s.

26 Comments on "Investigation Continues into B-1 Crash"

  1. How many B1s are left now? It's a sweet-looking plane. I hope they keep it flying for another 50 years.

  2. I have a feeling the brass will use this incident to retire all B-1s in favor of saving money the Billion dollar F-35 JSF boondoggle. The DoD will get strapped for money but instead of looking into whats needed and repair upgrade what works they cheat and lie to save there pet projects. Its sad is this the end of the Lancer????

  3. Captain Obvious | August 22, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Reply

    The YB-3 is looking like a pretty tight lipped project at Lockeed Grumman. From what my sources have gathered, it's built to support un-manned control, manned control, and an extra compartment in the middle that measures 20'x20' saved for future enhancements that they want to add.

  4. USS ENTERPRISE | August 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Reply

    Nice airplane. It has a higher bomb load than a -52, right? Nope, the AF can't be that dumb. Keep it USAF!

  5. "Questions remain over what caused the bomber to go down" doh!

    wouldn't the first thing you do is ask the crew, that seems logical to me

  6. Maintain it and keep it flying. Armed it with long range cruise for future defense. You never know when we need it for defense.

  7. It sounds like it may take several more weeks before they find the crash was due to pilot error.

  8. The B1-B flies like a fighter, so maybe the experienced crew was hot dogging before the plane went down. The Air Force will always find pilot error in these situations.

  9. The B1s have never been a particularly reliable aircraft. But, it is impressive when it works.

    I remember when the Air Force sent 5 to Diego Garcia and only 1 made it. The other 4 had mechanical problems along the way.

  10. Throwing a few training pilots in the cockpit together is a recipe for disaster.

  11. "…complicated airplane…"

    "…crash was due to pilot error."

    "…the experienced crew was hotdogging….".

    Why not come up with some entertaining conspiracy theories instead?

  12. Tribulatiotime | August 23, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Reply

    Investigation Continues…."With no evidence of fleet-wide problems". Don´t merge. Planes fall off every day, Crash is the next word after Take-off in a Check List (joke). after 20 years or so of fly is sure than a fleet problem is not the answer. A bit hollow news.

  13. .B-1s are convetional only. that makes them more of a target for drawdowns then B-52s and B-2s. I wouldn't be surprised to see a drawdown to 50 active birds, especially if this incident is traced down to aircraft fatigue or supply system issues. Such a drawdown would put one of the two B-1 bases in jeapordy of closure come the next Brac board.

  14. I would doubt pilot error on this one. When they hot dog it on this plane,.they do what it does best, really fast, really low. A hot dogging pilot then hits some granite cumulus and that's all she wrote and the crew does not have time to punch out.

    Since they all got out, chances are pretty good the crew knew of a problem that they could't deal with, thus punched. Thus pointing to mechanical.

  15. Any chance any of the B-1Bs stored in the boneyard could be brought to operational status if the need to replace this and other attrition losses arises?

  16. One of the 4 crewmen who ejected from the B1 is a brother of a C-12 pilot who was killed in the crash in Apr in Afghanistan.

  17. Pretty sure I saw a b1 fly over somerset in england close to this date, what was it doing here, close to ground as well.

  18. The B-1 is an excellent platform, more maneuverable than the B-52; but to get the most out of the B-1, the US Air Force needs to consider doing an engine upgrade to the PW F119 used in the F-22 Raptor to allow the B-1 to supercruise.

  19. They have been doing a ton of fly overs and touch and go’s at the airport here in Billings ( Logan ) all of the local info on the crash and the security and AF presence along with some other info seem to point to the fact that the ordnance on board was anything but conventional.

  20. They have been doing a ton of fly overs and touch and go’s at the airport here in Billings ( Logan ) all of the local info on the crash and the security and AF presence along with some other info seem to point to the fact that the ordnance on board was anything but conventional.

  21. These commentary spots reinforce to me the saying " Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has them and some as shi**y!"

  22. "With no evidence of fleet-wide problems, it is important that we resume flying and keep proficient at our primary mission,” said Col. Brooks McFarland, 28th Maintenance Group commander."____________________________________________How can he say there is no fleet-wide problem, when they don't know what the problem is, or don't know what caused this one to go down? I've seen in the past where the crash was blamed on the pilot, that was convenientt, seeing as how the pilots wasn't around to defend themselves, the crew survived this one. I know he need his birds in the air but, I would think it would be safer to find the cause of this crash first, before he start making assumptions…..Just my opinion.

  23. These birds and crews fly thousands of hours safely. One goes down with no crew loss and everyone panics. What happened to the good old days when aircraft systems were
    developing and crashes were frequent?

    They didn't panic then and we should not now.

  24. So now that the official investigation has released the official cause, where are all of the armchair experts who posted here about what they said caused it? None of you, not one, were right. What a surprise. So many "experts", so little real knowledge and they're all hiding 4-1/2 months later when the facts about what really happened come out.

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