Here's Why The Ejection Seat Failed During That Fiery B-1B Lancer Emergency Landing

Bullet Points
A Rockwell B-1B Lancer sits after making an emergency landing at Midland International Air and Space Port, Tuesday, May 1, 2018, in Midland, Texas.
Jacob Ford/Odessa American/Associated Press

A “crimped” part prevented an ejection seat from a stricken B-1B Lancer bomber from firing in May during an in-flight emergency, forcing the aircrew to land the bomber rather than abandon a stranded crew member, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told reporters on Tuesday.


  • “What we’ve learned from the investigation is there are actually two pathways to fire the seat and there was one particular part that had gotten crimped, so that when he pulled the handles the signal to the ejection seat didn’t flow,” Goldfein explained.
  • The part likely deformed over time, and that is a common issue with older aircraft that have components that are not easily replaced anymore, Goldfein said. Eventually, the Air Force determined another way to fire the B-1’s ejection seats in sequenced intervals, so that the crew does not all bail out at the same time.
  • “There’s actually a secondary pathway that allows them to initiate ejection,” Goldfein said. “So when we went through that process, that’s why we allowed them [B-1 bombers] to get back in the air and continue flying. Now we’re going through the technical change orders to make sure that we’re changing all those parts to make sure they’re full up.”
  • “What essentially happened was one of the crew members when they pulled the [ejection] handles to go, it didn’t function,” Goldfein explained on Tuesday. “Within a few seconds, the aircraft commander made a decision to stop the ejection sequence. Now, they actually were on fire and that’s never a good thing – to have a fire in an aircraft full of fuel.”
  • The four airmen aboard the bomber were recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroically landing the B-1B at Midland, Texas, while the plane was on fire. The Air Force temporarily grounded all B-1 bombers after the May 1 incident.

It's worth noting that Goldfein ejected from an F-16 when he was shot down over Serbia in May 1999, and his experience apparently gave him an appreciation of the severity of the emergency the bomber’s aircrew found themselves in.

“That young man was sitting on a live ejection seat,” Goldfein said. “Having ridden one out of an airplane, I’m here to tell you: You’ve got to think about what was in that crew’s mind – never knowing if a gust or something was going to fire them out of the aircraft. They made this decision to all stay together.”

WATCH NEXT:

Photo: Twitter

For an organization that is constantly shining a light on things that would rather be kept out of the public eye, the moderators of U.S. Army WTF! Moments have done a remarkably impressive job at staying anonymous.

That is, until Monday.

Read More Show Less

For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.

"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.

In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.

"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."

Read More Show Less

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has confirmed that a nightmare scenario has come to pass: Captured ISIS fighters are escaping as a result of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish-held northeast Syria.

Turkey's incursion has led to "the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees," Esper said in a statement on Monday.

Read More Show Less
ABC News anchor Tom Llamas just before his network airs grossly inaccurate footage

Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.

Read More Show Less

The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.

On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.

Read More Show Less