Leadership: Know When You Are


March 9, 2009: The U.S. Marine Corps recently relieved four officers from their jobs, and punished another nine less severely, for their part in causing a F-18D crash last December. That incident left four people on the ground dead, as the pilot tried to land an F-18D on one engine.

The marines were punished for not following proper procedures. In this case, the F-18D developed problems with its fuel system, shortly after takeoff,  that led the pilot to shut down one engine. At that point, the pilot was supposed to immediately land. But instead, he continued on to his destination, where the crash took place. It was also discovered that the ground crew knew there were some potential problems with the F-18D fuel system before it took off.

Part of the problem is the large number of people in marine aviation have been in combat, and gotten used to the more expedient habits one acquires when in a war zone. Marine aviators who have only served in a peacetime environment are more accustomed to doing everything by the book. In combat, you get used to bending the rules in order to complete the mission. In peacetime, your main danger is getting nailed for not following all those procedures.



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