US Marine Corps officials dismissed four squadron officers and reprimanded eight others in the aftermath of the 8 December 2008 crash of a Boeing F/A-18 into a San Diego neighbourhood after a training mission, according to a final report issued on 3 March.

Four members of the same family were killed when the twin-engined fighter came down after the pilot lost power to both engines and successfully ejected 400ft (122m) above the ground.

Mistakes by the pilot include attempting to land the aircraft at Miramar NAS with housing developments on the approach path rather than the nearer North Island, which would have kept the aircraft over water.

USMC F/A-18 Crash 
 © KPA/Zuma/Rex Features

The pilot had shut down the right engine as a precaution after receiving oil pressure warning lights minutes after take-off from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on the training mission. Minutes before the landing at Miramar, the left engine flamed out despite there being adequate fuel supplies on board.

Although the carrier controller had advised the pilot to land at North Island, the pilot and his squadron officials decided instead to try to make it to the aircraft's home base at Miramar, according to the report. Officials criticised the actions of the ground crew for suggesting flight manoeuvres that ultimately starved the left engine of fuel despite the fact that the pilot had reported a "low fuel" light.

Investigators also determined that maintenance personnel had known about fuel flow problems on the left engine for months, but had continued to certificate the aircraft as mission ready.

Source: Flight International