Marine Corps punishes 13 for San Diego jet crash

The December 8th crash killed a Korean-American mother, her two young children, and the children’s grandmother.

Thirteen Marine Corps personnel have been disciplined for errors that led a disabled Marine Corps jet fighter to crash in a San Diego neighborhood last December.

The accident killed four members of one family.

Service officials told members of Congress on Tuesday that four Marine Corps officers at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego have been relieved of duty for directing the F/A-18D Hornet to fly over the residential area.

The jet was having engine problems. Officials said the pilot should have been told to fly over San Diego Bay and land at another base that sits on the tip of a peninsula.

Nine other military personnel received lesser reprimands.-AP
Since the beginning people have questioned why didn’t the jet attempt a landing at North Island Naval Air Station, rather than runway 6 which took the jet over La Jolla and other populated parts of Southern California.

The crash caused fear and anger in University City. Residents there, and in other neighborhoods in Miramar’s flight paths, said the Marines shouldn’t have risked sending a disabled aircraft over a populated area when North Island had ample facilities to accommodate the jet.

In the days following the crash, Miramar’s commander, Col. Christopher O’Connor, said that Neubauer correctly followed emergency landing procedures by heading to Miramar. He and other Marine officials said it is safe to fly an F/A-18 on one engine, and they cited the long odds against a double-engine failure.

During a public meeting in University City three days after the crash, O’Connor said Neubauer had done everything possible to avoid casualties on the ground.- San Diego Union-Tribune
If everything was being done to avoid casualties, why wasn’t North Island used? As was reported last December, an approach to that base could have been done entirely over water. It sounds to me what took place last December is what is called a clusterfuck. Heads rolled today as a result.

Update- More from the San Diego Union Tribune

The Marine jet crash that killed four people in University City on Dec. 8 could have been prevented if the pilot and officers on the ground had followed safety procedures, and if the Marine Corps had stopped flying the plane after noting a fuel problem months earlier, said people who were briefed by the Marine Corps on Tuesday.

At least 10 minutes before Lt. Dan Neubauer’s F/A-18D Hornet went down, he was talking to Marine officials about what to do after one engine lost power and the other was possibly failing, according to air traffic control recordings released on the same day.

Neubauer turned down two chances to land his jet at North Island Naval Air Station, a nearby coastal airfield, while he was still offshore. He instead flew farther over heavily populated neighborhoods to attempt an emergency landing at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.

“Senior officers communicating with the pilot, as well as the pilot himself, did not consult their checklist and follow appropriate procedures that could have prevented the incident altogether,” said Joe Kasper, spokesman for Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Lakeside. Kasper attended a briefing with the Marine Corps on Tuesday morning.

Had they followed standard protocol, they would have realized the severity of the situation and diverted the aircraft to North Island, Kasper recalled the Marine officials saying.

No criminal charges are pending, but four officers – the squadron commander, squadron operations officer, standardization officer and maintenance officer – have been relieved of their duties and nine other Marines have been reprimanded, Kasper said.

The pilot’s status is under review. As I said earlier, the term clusterfuck seems appropriate.

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