Breaking: RAAF Super Hornet crashes and pilots eject

written by Adam Thorn | December 8, 2020

Two RAAF pilots have ejected after their RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed at Base Amberley.

Footage from the scene appears to suggest the aircraft ran off the runway and is still in one piece, although has suffered damage to its forward starboard fuselage.

The Department of Defence has confirmed aircrew are safe but revealed the cause of the incident is not known. A full investigation will now commence.

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7News reported that the jet was around 200 metres into its take-off run, and that eyewitnesses reported smoke billowing from the engine before the crew ejected.

“Defence can confirm that an incident involving an Air Force aircraft has occurred at RAAF Base Amberley,” the Defence Department said in a statement. “The aircrew of that aircraft are safe and no other personnel were involved in the incident.

“Defence’s first priority is the safety of personnel at RAAF Base Amberley.

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“Defence will provide more information once the immediate actions associated with the incident are completed.

“The cause of the incident is not known at this time and will be subject to investigation.”

The RAAF Super Hornet was completed in 2009 and first flew from Boeing’s factory in St Louis, Missouri, on 21 July 2009.

The RAAF’s first five F/A-18Fs arrived at their home base, RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, on 26 March 2010 and were joined by six more aircraft on 7 July 2010.

Following the arrival of another four aircraft in December 2010, the first RAAF F/A-18F squadron was declared operational that month.

The Royal Australian Air Force operates 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets, which ensure that Australia’s air combat capability edge is maintained until the full introduction of the F-35A Lightning II.

After achieving final operational capability in December 2012, they have participated in a range of exercises and operations, including:

  • Exercise Pitch Black in the Northern Territory;
  • Exercise Bersama Shield on the Malaysian Peninsula; and
  • Operation Okra in the Middle East.

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19 Comments

  • Tim

    says:

    The video is geo-blocked.

  • Ben

    says:

    Since when is a rejected takeoff a “crash”? I expect better from somebody who supposedly understands aviation.

    • Adam Thorn

      says:

      When the aircraft is damaged! If a car can crash on the ground, a plane can, too!

      Thanks for your comment,

      Adam

      • Raymond

        says:

        But the aircraft didn’t collide with anything! When a car crashes, it’s because it has collided with another car or an object such as a tree. When an aircraft crashes, it is because it has collided with another aircraft, the ground or a body of water. This aircraft, apparently, did not become airborne and neither does it appear to have collided with any ground objects. What is known, however, is an aborted takeoff and a double ejection. Media outlets referred to this as a ‘crash’. I wasn’t expecting AA reporting to also use the same technically incorrect term.

      • Raymond

        says:

        But the aircraft didn’t collide with anything! When a car crashes, it’s because it has collided with another car or an object such as a tree. When an aircraft crashes, it is because it has collided with another aircraft, the ground or a body of water. This aircraft, apparently, did not become airborne and neither does it appear to have collided with any ground objects. What is known, however, is an aborted takeoff and a double ejection. Media outlets referred to this as a ‘crash’. I wasn’t expecting AA reporting to also use the same technically incorrect term.

  • Greg Stevenson

    says:

    Firstly this aircraft has two engines. Secondly if as been suggested there was a large amount of smoke coming from the rear of the aircraft it would be possible that one of those two engines have failed

  • Marty Watson

    says:

    Technically the RAAF operates 12 F/A-18F Super Hornets and 12 EA-18G Growlers.

    • Raymond

      says:

      Actually, the RAAF operates 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets (of which 12 were pre-wired as Growlers) and 11 EA-18G Growlers (one lost from the original 12).

  • Jim

    says:

    Unless it’s proven to be mechanical failure, these two pilots’ will be dismissed, permanently.

  • Paul

    says:

    A rejected take-off isn’t a crash. You’d think an aviation journal would know the difference.

    • Adam Thorn

      says:

      It is if a portion of the aircraft collides with something, as was the case here.

  • Dan

    says:

    The engine? I seem to recall the Hornet had two engines atblast count.

  • Mick C

    says:

    This is a very unusual situation, normally an ejection leads to the Aircraft ending up as little more than a pile of twisted wreckage on a Hillside somewhere or burnt out like the RAAF Growler a couple of years back. I suspect Boeing and Martin-Baker are going to want to do a very thorough inspection.
    The big one will be, how much damage was done to the Cockpit, i would suspect the Cockpit would have to be completely rebuilt. If it cannot be returned to service, then i would say Boeing, Martin-Baker and the Pentagon will ask for the Aircraft to be returned.

  • Trev

    says:

    Marty, the RAAF has (maybe had after last week) 24 F/A-18F models. 12 were pre-wired to potentially be converted to Growlers however that option wasn’t used and the RAAF received 12 new build Growlers

  • James F

    says:

    A more accurate and appropriate headline might be “RAAF Super Hornet crew ejects during takeoff roll and aircraft comes to rest in stormwater drainage”

    • Adam Thorn

      says:

      Wouldn’t fit in the textbox, sadly!

      Thanks for your comment,

      Adam

  • Quin Mar

    says:

    Pilots? or F18 Pilot plus Weapons dude? or was this a training exercise instructor + junior pilot? Maybe the captain called ‘eject’ or maybe the aircraft system failed/called “eject-eject” or gave the captain a false ‘doom’ (fire) warning? Impressive to see the F18 doing some off-road and still looking good. F18’s are just beautiful all the time imo

  • PAUL

    says:

    Grammatical technicalities aside the main thing is the crew is safe, safest option is to use the seat, there are cases where Pilots have stayed with the Aircraft & survived and others haven’t, they probably shutoff both engines hit the brakes then ejected as they ran out of runway, rather than stay with the Aircraft when it crashes into something like a building or in this case a drain. The legacy Hornets seem to have faired better than the Supers. As we saw with the Growler fire these things burn quicker than metal due to the new materials they are made from so you wouldn’t want to be stuck in one after a crash on the ground or incapacitated. Seems the new F414 Turbofans maybe less reliable than the earlier F404 which is not ideal, hopefully GE can make improvements. Im surprised the rest are not grounded pending an investigation.

  • td

    says:

    Enough! Points made. Thrre are lots of reasons for ejection remembering the aim is to preserve aifcrew life. Throwing the aircraft away after takeoff would have caused more damage and or death. Lets sit on our hands and wait for the investigation and reports subject to classifications.

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