A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance airplane caught fire in April, endangering the lives of 27 airmen aboard the plane - all because a retaining nut connecting oxygen tubing was not tightened properly, accident investigators have determined. The report blamed a private defense contracting company for the accident.
"Failure by L-3 Communications depot maintenance personnel to tighten a retaining nut connecting a metal oxygen tube to a junction fitting above the galley properly caused an oxygen leak. This leak created a highly flammable oxygen-rich environment that ignited," U.S. Air Force investigators wrote in report published August 3.
Investigators determined the ensuing fire caused $62.4 millon in damage to the RC-135V, which electronically snoops on adversaries and relays gathered intelligence to commanders.