The burning fuselage of an F/A-18 Hornet lies smoldering after crashing into a residential building in Virginia Beach, Va., Friday, April 6, 2012. The Navy did not immediately return telephone messages left by The Associated Press, but media reports indicate the two aviators were able to eject from the jet before it crashed. They were being treated for injuries that were not considered life threatening. (AP Photo)
(AP) VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A rare dual-engine failure caused a Navy jet to crash into a Virginia Beach apartment complex in April shortly after taking off from a nearby base, according to an investigative report released Monday.
No one was killed when the F/A-18D Hornet crashed into the Mayfair Mews apartment complex, although the impact destroyed 27 apartments, displaced dozens and injured seven. Branch says the jet's two-man crew ejected at the last second possible to survive, 50 feet above the ground. The entire flight lasted 70 seconds and the plane's peak altitude was 425 feet.
The plane was on its way to the Atlantic Ocean for a routine training mission at the time of the April 6 crash.
The Navy says human error was not to blame and there would be no disciplinary action against the plane's crew, who have not been publicly identified.
The commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, Rear Adm. Ted Branch, said this is the first time there has been a dual-engine failure in an F/A-18. Had only one engine failed, Branch said it's likely the jet could have continued flying.
The report says the engines failed for different, unrelated reasons. The right engine stopped working after it ingested a flammable liquid, according to the report. That liquid ignited and caused a catastrophic failure of the compressor, according to the report.
The report says that in other crashes where the high-pressure compressor section blades in the engine failed, that liquid was later found to be fuel.
The problem with the left engine had to do with its afterburner not igniting. The Navy was unable to determine the exact cause of that problem because of the extensive damage to the plane.