Last week the U.S. Air Force released the findings of the investigation into the cause of the mishap that destroyed a B-2 stealth bomber in February. The accident investigation board concluded that the flight control computers, which essentially keep the aircraft stable throughout the flight envelope, received erroneous information due to moisture in the air data system. This lead to an uncommanded pitch-up during takeoff, and subsequent low speed, low altitude stall. The two crewmembers successfully ejected as the left wing of the B-2 scraped the runway just prior to ground impact.
The ejection system, which I wrote about in a previous blog entry about the crash, worked perfectly, and shows the capability of modern ejection seats to provide successful emergency escape even at very low altitudes. The video below, which was released by the Air Force along with the final report, shows the escape hatches being jettisoned, then the copilot leaving the aircraft first, followed quickly by the pilot. The ejection seats are the ACES II model manufactured by Goodrich Corporation. The video apparently was taken by a security camera, probably located on or near the control tower at the air base in Guam. As I wrote about in a blog entry on a wild A320 crosswind landing in Hamburg, Germany, the B-2 crash clip shows the importance of having video coverage of takeoffs and landings at major airports to aid in mishap investigations.
As a final note on the crash, the Air Force report states the B-2 destroyed in this mishap had a value of $1,407,006,920. The B-2 is truly a billion dollar+ bomber.