VIDEO: Harrier crash-lands in Kandahar

A Royal Air Force Harrier pilot safely ejects after crash-landing at Kandahar, Afghanistan, last year on 15 May in this clip posted on YouTube earlier this week.

Initial reports in the UK press that the Harrier’s undercarriage failed to lower are clearly incorrect. I’m not a crash forensic expert. Does anyone know why the Harrier crashed?


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17 Responses to VIDEO: Harrier crash-lands in Kandahar

  1. Craig Hoyle 3 June, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    If there was a Board of Inquiry into this mishap then its results haven’t been published yet by the MoD, so we’re speculating. The pilot adds power quite late on, but then the aircraft over flares, just prior to the impact. Not sure if an emergency had been declared prior to this though.
    Good to see that the aircraft’s Paveway IV bombs really are insensitive munitions!

  2. John S 3 June, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Without knowing more, it appears that the pilot made a steep approach (to avoid potential ground fire?), and forgot his ‘heavy’ configuration (returning with ordnance,) and flaired much too late. Were he light, it probably would have been a good landing.

  3. Charley A. 3 June, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Speculating from the video, it looks like he had a high rate of decent, and didn’t apply enough power to arrest that rate, and over-rotated just prior to landing. The rescue crews did not appear to be deployed near the runway, so I’d guess that no emergency was declared.

  4. UpandDown 3 June, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    Looks to me like he has no power – nozzles are down about 45 degrees but speed and angle of flight/flare indicate the wing is the only thing holding it up, and that is not enough – Harriers glide like a brick.

    Engine failure on finals?

  5. UpandDown 3 June, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    Hell of a feat of airmanship – bombs on, staying with it all the way in to ensure it sets down away from anyone else (runway looks like only clear space on a crowded base).

    Was the pilot OK? I do hope so.

  6. aeroxavier 3 June, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    i’m surprise to see that now

  7. Guysmiley 3 June, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Re: lack of power – You can see him apply power late, just before impact. Watch the aux inlet doors, you can see them open which coincides with the engine spooling up right before impact.

  8. UpandDown 3 June, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

    Yes, which strikes me as unusual as Harriers usually land with nozzles down and a fair bit of thrust – inlet momentum drag then helps slow them down and jet lift minimises speed and ground run. The pilot leaves the throttle alone and uses nozzle angle to vary thrust/lift. He was landing faster (and steeper – Harriers are usually flat in attitude all the way down) than any Harrier I have seen.

    My guess is he either lost power on the way in, maybe restarting the engine in the hope of getting it back before the runway, but ran out of time, OR he may have made the mistake of thinking the throttle was the nozzle lever and instead of putting the nozzles down to land cut throttle instead, and the lag in spooling up again caught him out. In either case, he was lacking power when he needed it it seems

    Still, riding a bomb laden aircraft into the ground when you can eject takes something most of us don’t have.

  9. Moose 3 June, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    Would think that if it were a declared emergency he would have dropped his load somewhere (unless it happened during the approach).

  10. snogglethorpe 4 June, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    “This video has been removed by the user.” :(

  11. Thad Beier 5 June, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    It’s funny that nobody has noticed up to this point, but when they designed the Harrier the boffins neglected to include a “wing”. It’s a pity, a bit of wing really might have helped that pilot when he flared the airplane.

  12. AirShowFan 7 June, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Interesting comments. I had assumed that this was an emergency dead-stick landing, but after reading this thread I noticed the presence of bombs and the absence of emergency vehicles. So yeah, apparently the best guesses are a really really crappy landing (improbable) or a last-minute loss of power. But who knows, it could be a million things.

    And I found the video in a few other places:

  13. Charley A. 7 June, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    You can hear the jet throttle up and down during the landing.

  14. Jimmy 7 June, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    Maybe the nozzles wouldn’t rotate past 45 degrees, for some reason.

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