AFSEC crash lab expands to include RPA

  • Published
  • By Keith Wright
  • Air Force Safety Center Public Affairs
The Air Force Safety Center added the remnants of an MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft to its crash lab training inventory here on Oct. 10.

This addition expands the curriculum at AFSEC by providing students with a modernized hands-on lab for RPAs during the Aircraft Mishap Investigation Course.

"Future AMIC students will now not only learn about investigating RPA mishaps in the classroom, the blended learning will enhance their ability to prevent recurrence," said Gwendolyn Dooley, chief of the Training and Force Development Division. "This RPA will enhance student learning by enabling them to see and actually touch an RPA while applying investigative techniques at the crash lab."

The MQ-1 is the first RPA to be featured at the crash lab and it sits in close proximity to an F-16 Fighting Falcon, T-38 Talon, A-10 Warthog, HH-1H helicopter and a debris fragment from a reentered Delta Stage 3, among others.

Placement of the MQ-1 is the culmination of a 15-month coordinated effort started in July 2016 by Maj. Rich Couture, chief of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Branch at the time, and Richard Greenwood, RPA Investigations subject matter expert.

"I received an initial tour of the crash lab and recognized a need for an RPA," said Couture. "This addition will help AFSEC modernize the crash lab and provide updated curriculum for the students that go through AMIC."

The MQ-1 was discovered within Air Combat Command at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, after months of petitioning the major commands for a viable candidate, and shipped to Kirtland.

"Many partnerships were formed to make this happen," added Couture. "When the MQ-1 arrived we worked closely with the 377th Civil Engineer Division, 377th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight and 58th Maintenance Squadron Corrosion Control to determine what was needed and prepare the airframe for placement."

A special epoxy was applied to the outer skin of the aircraft in an effort to mitigate any environmental issues that could surface over time.

The 377th Logistics Readiness Squadron supported the transportation needs required to get the 27-foot and just over 3,000-pound container to the crash lab.

The aircraft was unpacked and reassembled in its final resting place by the 58th Maintenance Squadron crash damage disable aircraft recovery team.