Attrition: For Want Of A Wire


December 12, 2012:   South Korean investigators found that the reason for a T-50B jet trainer crashing last November 15th was a maintenance technician failing to connect a wire and reactivate the vertical flight controls after making some repairs. That caused the T-50B to lose control in flight and crash, killing the pilot. There are numerous procedures maintenance personnel are supposed to use to avoid things like this happening. The commanding officer of the aircraft maintenance unit committed suicide as a result of the crash and his subordinate’s role in it. This was a rare setback for an otherwise very successful South Korean aircraft program.

The T-50B is the acrobatic version of the South Korean designed and manufactured T-50. There is also the TA-50, which is the combat version. The T-50 was developed over the last decade, at a cost of over two billion dollars. The first test flight of the T-50 took place in 2002. The 13 ton aircraft is actually a light fighter and can fly at supersonic speeds. With some added equipment (radars and fire control) the T-50 becomes the TA-50, a combat aircraft. This version carries a 20mm auto-cannon and up to 4.5 tons of smart bombs and missiles. The T-50 can stay in the air about four hours per sortie and has a service life of 8,000 flight hours. South Korea has several export customers for the T-50 as well as orders from the South Korean air force.