VIRGINIA BEACH -- The Navy says rare malfunctions in both engines led to the crash of an F/A-18 D Hornet in April.
According to Commander Naval Air Force Atlantic, "Within seconds of takeoff, the aircraft experienced unrelated dual engine malfunctions, which resulted in substantially reduced engine thrust and the pilot's inability to control flight."
"We've never had dual engine failures like this," the Navy said, explaining that there was a stalled right engine and a malfunctioning left engine.
The Oceana-based jet crashed April 6 just after taking off from Naval Air Station Oceana. No one was killed, but the impact or fire from the crash destroyed dozens of apartments at Mayfair Mews.
The Navy demolished 27 units, removed contaminated soil and cleaned the 37 units that were undamaged.
Seven people, including the two aviators, were injured. The jet's two-man crew ejected at the last second possible to survive, 50 feet above the ground.
"They stuck with this aircraf, to continue to have that aircraft fly until, another half second or a second, who knows what would have happened," said RADM Ted Branch, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic.
The pilot is still recovering and will return when medically able; the weapons systems operator is already back in the simulator, officials said.
The air crew will be flying again. The board found their actions were reasonable and appropriate, so no disciplinary action was suggested.
"We are extraordinarily confident we can fly safely. We recognize that flying here isn’t just a mission. We’re flying over our homes, our churches, our daycares. We’re not just concerned about our personnel, this is our home and we're concerned about our community," RADM Branch stressed.
Officials said there will be changes in emergency procedures to take into account "these very rare circumstances," adding that the Navy continues to have high confidence in the F-18 Hornet aircraft and the F-404 engine.