The Pentagon inspector general confirmed Monday what anyone who has spent any time looking into military aircraft accidents knows: that when the pilot isn’t around to defend himself – or herself – the service tends to blame the pilot.
That’s the IG’s conclusion after investigating the November 2010 F-22 crash in Alaska that killed Air Force Captain Jeff Haney. The service assigned most of the blame for the crash to Haney, even as it acknowledged that the F-22′s faulty oxygen system played a role.
“How convenient,” as the Church Lady used to say on Saturday Night Live. “The AIB [Accident Investigation Board] Statement of Opinion regarding the cause of the mishap,” the IG says, “was not supported by the facts.”
The Air Force rejected the IG’s finding. “The Air Force found that the AIB President’s Statement of Opinion regarding the cause of the mishap,” the service said, “was supported by clear and convincing evidence and he exhausted all available investigative leads.”
Given the fact that all these probers basically conclude that the evidence is murky, how about a new guiding principle in such accidents: when the evidence is split between human and machine, let’s give the human the benefit of the doubt.