How the mighty was humbled

9 06 2008

The B2 bomber is one of the most powerful flying platforms there is in the world today. It can fly undetected into enemy territory for over 6000 nautical miles to deliver bombs with a total weight (payload) of 40,000 pounds. In its 20 years of service none has ever been lost to enemy fire. But recently one of these mighty aircraft costing USD$1.4 billion dollars was destroyed in a crash. And what brought it down? A little bit of water! Yup, water. 3 of it’s many Air Data sensors were affected by water and as a result the Air Data computers sent incorrect air speed data to the pilots. The result, lost of over a billion dollars worth of machinery. The pilots were able to eject in time. The following is a rare video of the event.

But this kind of incident is not limited to military aircraft, in fact all aircraft have air data instruments which rely on the accuracy of its sensors. These sensors are very easily affected by water and ice. Therefore most of these sensors are heated to prevent the ingression of moisture and the formation of ice, thus ensuring its accuracy. If such an incident was to occur on a commercial airliner, the loss of life would be horrendous . . . unless manufacturers start installing ejection seats for everyone! hahaha!

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